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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    3

    Default Accused of Cyberstalking After an Online Dispute

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: California and Texas

    Hello

    I am here in search of advice on a complicated situation I have gotten myself into. Perhaps it is not so drastic as it seems but I have never been in any sort of trouble and do not wish to start now. I apologize ahead of time if the lost gets lengthy but I do not know which details are trivial and its a somewhat complicated situation.

    Recently I joined a forum seeking advice on a hobby I was looking to get into. Everything was going well until one member decided there was something about me he didn't like. He began belittling me in front of everybody on several different things including my grammar and monetary life choices. He even went so far as to post a full page comedy skit on my thread in which the humor was at my expense.

    Angered, I made a comment about him seeming jealous. He then tried to turn other members in the thread against me by insinuating that I meant they were all jealous. I accused him of stirring up the crowd so that he could hide amongst it. This really lit a fire under his butt for some reason and he made a statement along the lines of "I'm not hiding from anything! Here is my full name ____!"

    Maybe it was a well thought out bait technique or perhaps he didnt think I would act on it, but I did. I googled his name and used the readily available personal information I found to fuel the fire. I sent him a few messages about the dilapidated state of his abode (as I viewed it on google earth) as well as some other nasty insults about his home life that I was shamefully goaded into making.

    At this point my defense had become so enraged and so personal it really turned the tables in a manner that made it seem like more of an attack. He began telling the other members that I was cyberstalking him and showed everyone the messages. He began quoting some California law about cyberstalking which I didn't even know existed. It did mention harassment, which we had both done to each other at this point, but it also said I had to have made a credible threat to his or his families lives, and I definitely never did! I even offered to send him money to help with the renovations his house clearly needed. Granted that was after telling him that after seeing the way he lives I had a newfound sympathy for him, but the offer was still there with the offhanded insult... No threats. He continued to say what big trouble I was in.

    Anyhow he was a senior more and my counter attack was admittedly pretty viscous so I was the one who got the banned. And in the meantime they still have my thread open and are continuing to bash me...which really seems like some of the very harassment described in the law I was quoted.

    To conclude... in my opinion I may have been dangerously close but I do not feel that what I did qualifies as cyberstalking.... I feel this way for four main reasons: my actions were preceded by a heated argument, I was challenged to look into his background with the "here is my full name" statement, I was also harassed and in a sense continue to be,and last but not least I did not make any threats... On the contrary in fact.

    Does he have any ground to stand on in pursuance of his alleged case of me cyberstalking him? If he decides to act what are his options? What should I expect? What sort of time frame can I expect anything to come of this if he decides to press charges tomorrow, let's say? What effect, if any, will his living in Texas and my living in California have on the situation?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,451

    Default Re: Heated Dispute Turned Accused Cyberstalking

    Since the victim appears to be in TX, CA law would likely not apply here, so it will be TX that would have to act on it.

    Even if it might be a crime in Texas, I seriously doubt that a warrant will be issued and that they would pursue extradition from California for such an offense. Leave it be, move on, and don't dwell on the site any longer.

    Check 33.07(b) ...

    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.u.../htm/PE.33.htm
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Heated Dispute Turned Accused Cyberstalking

    Stay off the site, you don't need to read all the bashing.

    If you have a FaceBook page, I'd suggest blocking the dude also.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Accused of Cyberstalking After an Online Dispute

    So I have confused feelings about the replies.... It seems as though it is implied that, while wrong, the situation is not a big deal and is likely to just blow over... But the link provided says by acknowledging that I knew his place of residency in a message I gave him grounds to stand on with his claim. Was that link for Texas law?
    I found this but it is from a page quoting CA law:

    In short, the prosecutor must prove that you

    maliciously or willfully harassed another person, and
    made a credible threat against that person,
    placing that individual in reasonable fear for his/her safety or the safety of his/her family,
    which was communicated by means of the Internet or another "electronic communication device".5

    I never threatened. I am not trying to defend what I did I know it was immature to allow myself to be goaded into a petty dispute, especially one which ended in below the belt insults at ones private life, but my only intention was to give him a taste of the harassment he gave me....yes I took it a step farther but that was because by that point things had escalated. I never comminicated any intention of causing him or his loved ones harm.

    That being said, the forum was a firearms forum. Is this why he is claiming he has justification to fear for his life?

    I have not been back to the site as suggested so I do not know if he is still talking about pressing charges or not but I need to be know what to expect.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Accused of Cyberstalking After an Online Dispute

    By my estimate, 99.999% of threats of legal action that follow angry exchanges in online forums result in... nothing happening.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    not in a prison
    Posts
    732

    Default Re: Accused of Cyberstalking After an Online Dispute

    I wouldn't worry about it,, the net is full of such things,, you never made any threats, in the future don't let people upset you so much, in the end its only an internet forum, back when I had my bar I needed to learn to let things go on a nightly basis and it was really hard at first, but I learned how to do it, you should treat the net like water on a duck,, let it just roll off your back.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,451

    Default Re: Accused of Cyberstalking After an Online Dispute

    Since the victim is in TX, he would have to report this to his local law enforcement agency. Absent some additional information that might give the alleged victim reason to fear an imminent threat to his wellbeing, this is not going anywhere. Stay off the site and leave him be.

    If TX officers contact you, it is up to you whether you admit to posting anything, denying the whole thing, or simply declining to comment.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Accused of Cyberstalking After an Online Dispute

    I've got my own group of haters. I put up a legal warning on FaceBook citing the Harassment by Telecommunications and Cyberstalking statutes. I mean, I've only got the Queen Witch blocked under 4 different variations of her name. And I do find it amusing that people that hate me so much are soooo interested in what is going on in my life that they have to have someone friend me just for that purpose. That little warning got rid of a couple people, oops. Perhaps they are panicking like you are.

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