The internet is a great tool we use daily for everyday tasks. What is also offers is a chance at anonymity, which can sometimes be utilized to harass or stalk another person online. This is often referred to as cyberstalking and is a crime under the Texas criminal laws. Cyberstalking is included in Texas’s Penal Code 33.07 where the offense of stalking is defined. Under the code, stalking is a misdemeanor offense that can be elevated to a felony in some circumstances.
If you or someone you know has been charged with cyberstalking or another computer crime, it’s imperative you seek legal counsel. The penalties for cyberstalking could make a significant impact on your life and hinder your professional and personal goals. The best way to fight these allegations is with experienced legal representation. That is why we highly encourage you to seek an experienced cybercrimes attorney if you’ve been charged with online harassment.
Houston Online Harassment Attorney | Texas Cyberstalking Laws
Cyberstalking or online harassment may be a serious crime under Texas law, but the people who commit it tend to have no violent tendencies at all. In fact, most cyberstalking cases are simply young people taking things online a little too far. Despite this fact, the state of Texas will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who violates online harassment laws. For this reason, we urge you to call Horak Law for experienced and skilled legal representation.
Matt Horak of Horak Law understands the complexity of online stalking laws in Texas. He can use his knowledge and hours of trial practice to build an effective and efficient defense for your case. Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation free of charge. Horak Law accepts clients throughout the greater Harris County and Houston metropolitan area and surrounding counties including Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, Liberty County, and Waller County.
- Is Cyberstalking a Crime in Texas?
- Can You Go to Jail for Online Harassment in Texas?
- Additional Resources
Is Cyberstalking a Crime in Texas?
While there may not be a “cyberstalking statue,” the crime of cyberstalking is very much illegal under Texas law. Online harassment or cyberstalking is included in Texas’s Penal Code 24.07, which directly precedes the stalking statute in the same chapter. The prosecutor must prove multiple elements to convict you of cyberstalking. These elements include
- You intended to harass, embarrass, torment, alarm, annoy or abuse another while doing one of the following actions online or using an electronic device:
- Initiate communication and during the conversation make an obscene request, suggestion, proposal, or comment
- Threaten to inflict bodily injury or commit a felony against another person, their property, or someone they care about in a manner the “victim” is reasonably alarmed afterwards
- Convey a false report you know is false, receiving a false report, that someone suffered death or serious bodily injury
- Use online telephone communications and ring repeatedly or make calls anonymously that would make a reasonable person feel scared, embarrassed, offended, tormented, alarmed, annoyed, or abused
- Post the victim’s telephone number online or give it to another person online so it can be used to omit an offense under this section
- Send repeated online communication that would harass, alarm, abuse, embarrass, offend, or annoy a reasonable person
Most online harassment cases are charged under Texas Penal Code 24.07. However, the crime may be charged as a stalking offender under Section 42.072 if you on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engage in conduct that would be defined as:
- Online harassment as stated above and knows or reasonably should know the other person will regard as threatening:
- Bodily injury or death
- Bodily injury or death for a member of the victim’s family or household or someone they have a close dating relationship with
- And because of that harassment caused the victim, their family, friends, or dating partner to be in fear of bodily injury or death. It can also include a reasonable fear of a crime being committed on the victim, their friends, family, or dating partner’s property. This harassment would cause any reasonable person to:
- Fear bodily injury or death for themselves
- Fear bodily injury or death for their family, friends, or dating partner
- Fear an offense will be committed on their property
- Feel harassed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended.
Can You Go to Jail for Online Harassment in Texas?
Cyberstalking charged as online harassment is a class B misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a class B misdemeanor includes:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- A fine of up to $2,000
If you had been previously convicted of online harassment or another comparable offense, then the prosecution will reclassify the crime to a class A misdemeanor. The maximum punishment for a class A misdemeanor includes:
- Up to 12 months in jail
- A fine of up to $4,000
If the crime is charged under the stalking statue, then you should expect to face a third-degree felony instead. The maximum sentence you can receive for a third-degree felony includes:
- Up to 10 years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
Having a prior conviction for stalking will bump the charge to a second-degree felony. The statutory penalties for a second-degree felony include:
- Up to 20 years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
Information on Stalking | Texas Attorney General — Access the official site for the attorney general, Ken Paxton, to find information on stalking and cyberstalking offenses. Get answers to frequently asked questions, learn what you can do if you’re a victim of stalking, and read about important safety tips that could save your life.
Stalking and Cyberstalking Laws in Texas – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to read up on the laws for cyberstalking and stalking. Access the site to learn what is considered online harassment, the penalties for the crime, and aggravating factors for the offense.
Cyberstalking Defense Lawyer in Harris County
If you or someone you know has been accused of stalking or cyberstalking, then consult Horak Law. Matt Horak of Horak Law has over a decade of experience as well as valuable knowledge from when he worked at the Harris County District Attorney’s office. His rare point-of-view from working as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney could give you the advantage you need when stepping foot in that courtroom.
Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation free of charge. Domestic violence and violent crime attorneys at Horak Law accepts clients in the greater Houston and The Woodlands area and surrounding communities including Spring, Tomball, Crosby, La Porte, South Houston, Bellaire, Montgomery, Conroe, Magnolia, New Caney, Willis, Pinehurst, Hempstead, Brookshire, Dayton, Liberty, Sugar Land, Richmond, Fulshear, Fresno, Brazoria, Alvin, Angelton, Manvel, Galveston, Kemah, Bacliff, Santa Fe, Hitchcock, and Bayou Vista.