Today’s digital world offers numerous advantages, from social networking to business opportunities. But, it also opens avenues for misuse, and cyberstalking is one such growing concern. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 936,000 people dealt with cyberstalking in 2020.
Cyberstalking means harassing or threatening an individual or group through electronic communications such as email, social media or instant messaging. If you face accusations of cyberstalking in Virginia, you need to understand the potential consequences, because the state takes this issue very seriously and imposes legal penalties on those found guilty.
Class 1 misdemeanor
Virginia typically classifies cyberstalking as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia can be severe. A conviction could result in up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
Cyberstalking charges can escalate to a felony under certain circumstances. For instance, if your actions cause someone to reasonably fear death or bodily harm, you could face a Class 6 felony charge. Consequences for a Class 6 felony in Virginia range from one to five years in prison. However, depending on the judge’s discretion and the specifics of the case, they could reduce this to a jail term of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
A conviction for cyberstalking can have long-lasting effects on your life beyond the immediate legal repercussions. It can lead to a permanent criminal record, which may limit your future job prospects, affect your standing in the community and cause other social and personal repercussions.
If you find yourself in a situation with someone online, it is important to evaluate if you might be crossing the line into cyberstalking and consider taking other routes to resolve the situation.