Internet Crime | Utah Takes Cyberbullying and Electronic Stalking Seriously
Cyberbullying has been all over the news, so much so Utah now has a statute. Find out why a claim of cyber bulling or stalking can be so serious here.
Law Offices of David Paul White & Associates
Salt Lake City801-266-4114
St. George801-266-4185
Murray801-266-4185
699 East South Temple Suite 215 Salt Lake City, UT 84102
141 East 5600 South, Suite 209 Murray, UT 84107
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Although cyberbullying is most often discussed in terms of mean girls in high school posting about other kids on Facebook, electronic stalking presents a far larger problem today.

In Utah, these behaviors are addressed under a section of the state code entitled Electronic Communication Harassment. Under these laws, its surprisingly easy for another person to allege — and prove — cyberbullying or electronic stalking.

The Basics of Electronic Communication Harassment or Cyberbullying

Utah law states that you may be subject to prosecution if you make repeated attempts to contact someone electronically, whether or not a dialogue ensues. This pertains to calls, texts, emails and any other electronic forms of communication, including social media.

As to intent, the statute applies if you meant to “annoy, alarm, intimidate, offend, abuse, threaten, harass, frighten or disrupt the electronic communications of another.”

Pay special attention to annoy and offend. Most internet and electronic communications users can probably admit to one or both of those intentions at some point.

If cyberbullying is carried out against an adult (someone age 18 or above), it qualifies as a Class B misdemeanor, which carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the acts are committed against a minor, or if stalking charges can be brought, the stakes go up.

The Growing Risk of Baseless Electronic Stalking Charges

Because the tone and intent of electronic communications can be difficult to interpret, a recipient may read more into your message than you intended. As women (and men) become more aware of predators, they may believe that it’s better to be safe than sorry, and report innocent text messages or emails as harassment.

Even repeatedly contacting a customer in an attempt to collect an outstanding invoice can lead to cyberbullying or harassment charges under the Utah statute.

Because true cyberstalking has become so prevalent in the United States, the authorities tend to take allegations of this nature seriously. As a result, it is surprisingly easy to press charges for electronic harassment.

And even if you aren’t guilty, you must still mount an aggressive legal defense.

Defending Against Cyberbullying and Electronic Stalking Charges

As easy as it is to bring cyberbullying charges, it’s a bit more difficult to convict.

To achieve a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that you had specific intent in mind when you communicated with the alleged victim. This fact of law provides ample leeway for your criminal defense attorney to mount a strong defense.

The best approach, of course, is to use caution in your electronic communication and online activities. But if you slip up and text your ex too many times late at night, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

In Murray, St. George and Salt Lake City, the Law Offices of David Paul White & Associates understands how easily an innocent conversation can be misinterpreted. If you find yourself facing charges for electronic communication harassment, contact one of our convenient office locations immediately.

As an experienced criminal defense attorney, David Paul White will build a strong and effective case to fight the cyberbullying charges against you.

As an experienced criminal defense attorney, David Paul White will build a strong and effective case to fight the cyberbullying charges against you.

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About Associates

The Law Offices of White & Matern, PLLC represent individuals across the Intermountain West and Utah in criminal defense matters, including those in Salt Lake County and Washington County as well as the cities of Salt Lake City, St. George, Logan, Brigham City, Provo, Orem, West Valley City, Sandy, Murray, Kearns, Draper, Park City, Tooele, Bountiful, Ogden, Layton, South Jordan, Taylorsville, Vernal, Price, Tremonton and Heber City

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