Call for a FREE consultation at (713) 222-6767

Cyberstalking Defense Attorney

You can face criminal charges in Texas for various online activities, especially if you’re accused of harassing or stalking someone online. Generally referred to as “cyberstalking,” the offense can take many forms and carries harsh penalties.

Cyberstalking and online harassment crimes need to be taken seriously as soon as you become aware of the situation. Ensure you have an aggressive cyberstalking defense attorney at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett. As an experienced Houston sex crimes attorney and criminal defense lawyer, you can rest easier knowing our team is working tirelessly to resolve the matter with a dismissal, reduction, or another favorable result.

Call (713) 222-6767 for a free confidential consultation with a cyberstalking defense lawyer in Houston.

Cyberstalking Laws in Texas

There is no legal statute for cyberstalking in Texas. However, cyberstalking falls under the stalking criminal code found under Texas Penal Code 24.07. Depending on your circumstances, you could also face more severe federal cyberstalking charges under 18 U.S. Code § 2261A.

The prosecutor in a cyberstalking case will need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To do this, they must show that:

  • The defendant intended to torment, annoy, embarrass, or abuse someone else online or through an electronic device.
  • The defendant initiated communication with the alleged victim and made an offensive proposal, request, comment, or suggestion.
  • The defendant threatened to cause severe bodily injury or death or commit another felony against the alleged victim, someone they care about, or their personal property.
  • The defendant conveyed false information they knew was wrong.
  • The defendant attempted to communicate with the alleged victim repeatedly or make anonymous comments, calls, or contact intended to cause the alleged victim to feel annoyed, offended, scared, embarrassed, or abused.
  • The defendant confirms false information about another party suffering severe bodily injury or death.
  • The defendant repeatedly sent online communications to the alleged victim intended to embarrass, harass, offend, or abuse.
  • The defendant posted the alleged victim’s contact information online or gave the information to someone else who committed cyber stalking against the alleged victim.

Related Cyberstalking Offenses

Cyberstalking is not the only charge someone can face for their online activities. Here are some other offenses you might be charged with related to cyberstalking and stalking:

Online Sex Offenses

A cyberstalking charge may be related to severe other sex crime allegations. Our defense attorneys know how complicated these situations can be. We are prepared to help defend against an array of sex offenses that may involve online activity.

Common sex crimes related to cyberstalking include:

Online Harassment in TX

Criminal harassment involves any act that intends to embarrass, abuse, annoy, harass, or torment someone else.

Criminal harassment includes:

  • Making a false report that someone else has suffered severe bodily injury or death
  • Threatening to cause someone physical harm
  • Sending abusive, annoying, or threatening electronic communications in the form of text messages, emails, direct messages, or phone calls
  • Threatening to commit a felony against someone else, their family members, or their personal property
  • Repeatedly calling someone and hanging up on them
  • Repeatedly calling someone and remaining silent on the line
  • Requesting someone engage in offensive activities, such as sexual acts.

Online Solicitation

Online solicitation is charged when someone is accused of using text messages, email, or other electronic devices to entice a minor to engage in sexual activities or conversation. As a child sex crime, this is often considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in a Texas state prison and fines not to exceed $10,000.

Online Impersonation

Online impersonation occurs when one party goes on the Internet with the intent to defraud, harm, or intimidate someone else using another party’s persona and name. They may create social media profiles or web pages, send messages, or make posts using another party’s identity.

Online impersonation can be a misdemeanor or felony based on the circumstances. Class A misdemeanor online impersonation convictions carry a maximum sentence of one year in a Texas county jail and fines up to $4,000. Third-degree felony online and personation convictions carry a maximum of up to 10 years and fines not to exceed $10,000.

Cyberstalking Penalties in Texas

The consequences of a cyberstalking conviction in Texas vary based on whether you were charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

When you are accused of a cyberstalking offense such as online harassment, this is a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, you could spend up to 180 days in a Texas county jail and be fined up to $2,000.

If your cyberstalking offense falls under the stalking statute, third-degree felony charges will apply. A conviction carries a sentence of up to 10 years in a Texas State prison and fines not to exceed $10,000. This could be increased to a second-degree felony if you have a prior stalking conviction.

Second-degree felony convictions are punishable by up to 20 years in a Texas State prison and fines not to exceed $10,000.

Cyberbullying Charges in Texas

This refers to bullying that occurs in an electronic format and has become more prevalent than ever before. And while cyberbullying is usually reserved for juvenile matters, adults have been known to be charged with cyberbullying for interactions via text, email, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and other social media platforms.

While not as severe as cyberstalking, the consequences of cyberbullying will still be impactful. If this is your first conviction for harassment, you could be fined $2,000 and spend up to six months in a Texas county jail. If you are a habitual offender, the penalties could double.

Cyberstalking Protective Orders

The alleged victim may obtain a protective order against you. To get a protective order for cyberstalking, an alleged victim will need to show one or more of the following:

  • There are reasonable grounds that the alleged victim is being stalked
  • Family violence has occurred and will continue to occur
  • There are reasonable grounds that the alleged victim is a victim of trafficking
  • There are reasonable grounds that the alleged victim was sexually assaulted

If a protective order is granted, it will initially be temporary. A hearing will be held to determine whether the protective order should be extended and become permanent.

During this time, cease all communication with the alleged victim and abide by the terms of the order. Failure to do so could mean additional criminal charges.

What to Expect & Mistakes to Avoid in a Cyberstalking Case

Knowing how to handle the situation can be difficult when you are arrested for cyberstalking. First, never attempt to explain the situation to the police or resolve the matter. Never contact the alleged victim.

The police will investigate, which may involve interviewing you or trying to access your various online accounts. You do not want to make self-incriminating comments or hand over sensitive materials. Always exercise your right to remain silent. Inform law enforcement that you will remain silent until an attorney is present.

Take your defense seriously, as these cyberstalking charges could permanently damage your reputation and alter your life if convicted.

Cyberstalking Defenses & Alternatives

Reducing the Charge

Your cyberstalking defense attorney will work diligently to get the charges against you reduced to a lesser offense. Suppose you were initially facing felony-level cyberstalking charges. In that case, we will work to reduce your charges to a lesser offense, such as harassment which can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.

Favorable Plea

Working out a plea agreement with the district attorney may be in your best interests. If you have a prior criminal record or the state has considerable evidence against you, a plea bargain may be the best way to avoid a harsher sentence.

You may need to meet specific requirements to qualify for a plea agreement. If you fulfill the terms, the state will reduce the charges or dismiss your case. However, meeting these terms could result in prosecution of the original cyberstalking charges.

You Didn’t Intend to Harm Anyone

The prosecutor must prove that you intended to cause harm to the alleged victim for the jury to return a conviction. If you had no intent to abuse, annoy, torment, or harass the alleged victim, the cyberstalking charges against you do not apply and should be reduced or dismissed accordingly.

Your Behavior Was Not Harassment

Saying something inappropriate or hurtful is not necessarily considered harassment. If you were exercising your right to free speech, went a little too far, or made a comment that you wish you could take baths, this may not constitute harassment. If this is true for your case, your cyberstalking defense lawyer could get the charges against you reduced to a lesser offense or dropped.

Texas Cyberstalking Charges: FAQs

What are Examples of Cyberbullying?

Some examples of online bullying could include:

  • Name-calling
  • Teasing
  • Threatening bodily injury
  • Making inappropriate sexual comments

Should I Talk to the Police?

It’s best never to speak to the police without a criminal defense lawyer present. Doing so increases the likelihood of self-incrimination, which will be devastating at trial.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Cyberstalking in Texas?

The statute of limitations for misdemeanor charges in Texas is two years from the date of the criminal offense. However, the time limit could vary since cyberstalking can be charged in several ways.

Contact a Houston Cyberstalking Defense Attorney for Help

When you have been accused of cyberstalking, reach out to a respected defense lawyer at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett. Let us walk you through the charge and how to best approach your defense.

To schedule your free initial consult, fill out our contact form or call (713) 222-6767.