Online Harassment Attorney in Virginia & Washington, D.C.
Offering Strong Defense Strategies
Online harassment, also known as harassment by a computer, is a type of computer crime listed in the Virginia Computer Crimes Act and codified in Section 18.2-152.7:1 of the Virginia Code. These cases are aggressively pursued, but they can also be very complex and difficult to prove. If you have been charged with online harassment or a related crime, the Commonwealth may have already collected evidence and are putting forth an effort to build a strong case against you. If the police try to question you at any point, it is important to politely decline and raise your right to an attorney.
S.L. England, PLLC is a trusted and resourceful computer crimes defense firm representing clients throughout the Washington, D.C. and Virginia regions. We will review your case, outline your best options, and discuss a strong, viable defense.
What Is Online Harassment?
The definition of harassment by computer is provided under §18.2-152.7:1 as when, “any person, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass any person, shall use a computer or computer network to communicate obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious, or indecent language, or make any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature, or threaten any illegal or immoral act”.
How Does a Prosecutor Prove a Case of Harassment by Computer?
There are several elements to this crime that the prosecutor must prove before a conviction can be rendered:
- First, your conduct must have been intentional.
Second, you must have used a computer or computer network – a computer
network can refer to other tech equipment other than a computer, like:
- electronic notebooks
Third, the tone of your communication must have been:
- intimidating, or
- amounting to harassment
Fourth, the substance of the communication either must have included (1)
a threat of an illegal or immoral act; or (2) language that was:
What Are the Penalties for an Online Harassment Conviction?
Harassment by computer is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor carries the potential of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
It is also important to keep in mind that a protective order may have been taken out against you, so you need to make sure you comply with the terms to avoid additional punishment. Also, a civil lawsuit could be filed against you. Winning a criminal case, however, can sometimes help with a civil case.
Are There Defenses to Online Harassment?
There are defenses to online harassment charges.
These could include:
- lack of intent
- failure to prove all the elements of the crime
- insufficient evidence
- mistaken identity
- mistake of fact
Even if none of these defenses are present (or even if they are), you can still fight the charges with a good defense strategy. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty, but S.L. England, PLLC, an experienced computer crimes attorney, aims to create that doubt. If successful, your charges could be dismissed or reduced, or you could be acquitted at trial.