As reported, Teen Mom 2 star, Jenelle Evans, has been accused of cyberstalking, in a complaint filed by her baby daddy, Nathan Griffith.
Jenelle’s legal troubles roll on—but what exactly is cyberstalking, and what scenarios exist that may have triggered another round of legal trouble, for the MTV reality star?
The online police resource explains that laws in each state and country tend to differ, when cyberstalking cases are being decided in the courts. However, common elements do exist.
- Means: Electronic transmission of information or communication by the use of a computer or other electronic means
- Specific person: Sent to a person identified by a unique address and received by that person
- Intent: To coerce, intimidate, or harass the person
- Transmission: Obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious, indecent language, or any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature, or threat of any illegal or immoral act
Cyberstalking is an escalated form of online harassment, with an intent to annoy, alarm, and emotionally abuse another person. Most stalking laws require a credible threat made to the victim or the victim’s immediate family, however some states only require the alleged stalker’s behavior to constitute an implied threat. Statutes that require a “credible threat” are problematic, because the possible distance factor between the sometimes unknown perpetrator and the victim, makes it hard to prove a credible threat.
The Department of Justice defines cyberstalking as “the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly.” The level of threat typically escalates, with subsequent messages. Such activity includes repeatedly sending harassing or threatening messages using e-mail, chat rooms, message boards, forums, newsgroups, instant messaging services, or any combo of the list. Other forms of cyberstalking include—
- Leaving harassing or threatening messages in the guestbook on the victim’s website
- Sending inappropriate electronic greeting cards
- Posting personal advertisements in the victim’s name
- Creating Web sites that contain messages that threaten or harass the victim or that are made to look as if the victim created the site and that often contain provocative or pornographic photographs, most of which were altered
- Sending viruses to the victim’s computer
- Using spyware to track the Web sites the victim visits or record the keystrokes the victim makes
- Hacking into the victim’s computer or Internet connection
- Sending harassing messages to the victim’s employers, coworkers, students, teachers, customers, friends, families, or churches, or sending harassing messages forged in the victim’s name to others
Three aspects will likely be evaluated, when the judge later looks at Griffith’s case. A specific target has to be substantiated, an “intent test” will be administered, and the repeated transmission of messages has to be proven. The online resource notes the following questions require an evaluation, in order to nail intent.
In North Carolina, violation of the state’s cyberstalking statute, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14‑196.3, is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Since North Carolina uses structured sentencing, the sentencing range depends on the number of prior convictions the offender has, however within the court has considerable discretion within that range.
Violation of the stalking statute, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-277.3A, is a Class A1 misdemeanor. Additionally, an offender who is convicted of stalking while a restraining order is in effect is guilty of a Class H felony.
Does the message communicate a direct threat to the well-being of the recipient?
Has the recipient of the message been singled out for the harassment, and would a reasonable person consider that the intent of the message is to coerce, intimidate, or harass the recipient?
Nathan Griffith’s complaint triggered law enforcement to issue Evans a criminal summons, and require a court appearance, where a judge will decide if cyberstalking took place.
Is Jenelle Evans shacked up with one guy, yet secretly harassing another? Many claim that Evans is not over Griffith, so this development certainly raises the eyebrows of onlooking fans. Stay tuned, as the story develops.