In Nevada, stalking is a misdemeanor that involves willfully and maliciously engaging in the course of conduct that causes the victim of the conduct to feel fear. Harassing, intimidating, terrorizing, or frightening the victim is considered the course of conduct. They may be afraid for their safety, the safety of their family members, or property damage.
What Are the Elements of Stalking?
A stalker is someone who unintentionally harasses, or annoys, a victim. Repeated harassing or annoying conduct can include, for example, repeated unwanted threats; following of the victim; multiple unwanted emails, letters, or telephone calls; and other unwanted conduct, such as destruction of personal property or vandalism.
Stalking must involve the intent to harass, intimidate, or cause emotional distress.
Furthermore, if there are threats against safety or property, the threats must be credible. A stalker must engage in specific, physical, or verbal behavior that is terrifying both to the victim and to the average person.
A threat made in jest or with vague threats may not be credible. The threat would not be considered credible, both because it was made in jest and because it lacked any sense of urgency (i.e., “one day” rather than “in one hour”).
What Is a Course of Conduct?
In general, a pattern of conduct is a course of conduct. It is defined as conduct consisting of at least two acts intended to intimidate or scare the victim.
What Does “To be Put in Fear” Mean?
It is stalking when the stalker intends to cause emotional distress to the victim or cause the victim to fear bodily harm (either to themselves or a family member or friend), damage to personal property, or death. Additionally, the victim must be made to fear these things. There has been no stalking if the target of the stalking is not actually put in fear.
What Is Internet Stalking?
Internet stalking, also known as cyberstalking, is harassing, threatening, or annoying a victim via the Internet or social media. A stalker tries to cause harm to the victim, their family, or their property.
How Does Nevada Define Internet Stalking?
In Nevada, Internet stalking is using the following to communicate, distribute, display, or publish information to terrorize or harm a victim via:
- Electronic mail (email)
- Networking site
- Text message
A person accused of Internet stalking must pose a substantial risk of harm or injury to the victim.
The alleged victim of cyber-stalking commonly obtains restraining orders against the alleged perpetrator. Judges may issue temporary protective orders (TPO) without giving the defendant a hearing. Temporary protective orders (TPO) typically last for 45 days. Before issuing an extended protective order (EPO), the judge must allow the defendant an opportunity to be heard.
The law in Nevada does not prohibit behavior that is merely annoying or does not cause the victim to feel threatened.
Are Internet Stalking and Aggravated Stalking the Same Crime in Nevada?
There are two key differences between these crimes. Internet stalking only takes place online. Even though it may involve online activity, aggravated stalking usually occurs offline. Another difference between the two crimes is that aggravated stalking always involves a threat of substantial injury or death to the victim.
How Can I Get Help if I am Being Harassed or Stalked on the Internet?
It is important that you immediately inform the system administrator of both your Internet Service Provider and the Internet Service Provider of the stalker. You can find free services on the internet that analyze your unwanted email to determine its source. A report can then be generated and emailed to the appropriate system administrator.
How Is Internet Stalking Different from Physical Stalking?
Even though being stalked on the internet may seem safer than being stalked in person, it is very dangerous. To avoid legal repercussions, stalkers often start stalking in person before moving to the internet. Occasionally, stalking can begin on the internet and then evolve into stalking in person.
Is There Anything My Internet Service Provider Can Do to Help Me?
Internet Service Providers have abuse policies, usually outlined in the customer service agreement. Abuse complaints should be sent to the postmaster or the internet service provider’s abuse department. In most cases, system administrators will cancel the accounts of anyone sending abusive emails and work with other administrators to prevent future incidents.
What Is the Punishment for Internet Stalking in Nevada?
The crime is a category C felony. The punishment for this category of a felony is:
- One to five years in prison
- $10,000 fine
- Fine and prison time
Besides jail time, fines, and penalties, stalking may have dire consequences. Many states allow a judge to issue a restraining order prohibiting the stalker from contacting the victim. A restraining order can be obtained while the stalker is imprisoned and when the stalker is released from jail and on probation. It may be necessary for the stalker to register as a sex offender on a state’s sexual offender registry if the stalking is of a sexual nature.
Can I Be Sentenced to Probation Instead of Prison Time for Cyber Stalking?
A Nevada sentencing judge can suspend the prison sentence and instead sentence the defendant to probation. If the defendant has been convicted of stalking or another crime in the past, it may be difficult to persuade a judge to grant probation instead of a prison sentence.
Are There Defenses to the Crime of Stalking?
All criminal defendants are entitled to due process rights. They include the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The prosecution must also prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt as part of due process.
It is possible to defend against a stalking charge by showing that the prosecution has not proven one or more elements of the offense. In many cases, defendants can do so by proving that the victim was not put in fear or that they had no intention of doing so.
There are several other defenses to stalking. These include, but are not limited to:
- The defendant was exercising their legal rights: Under this defense, the defendant was engaged in speech protected under the First Amendment. Speech that merely annoys another individual, without more, is generally constitutionally protected;
- Mistaken identity: Here, the defendant asserts that someone else — not the defendant — is the individual who has engaged in the stalking behavior. The defendant can successfully assert this defense for example, if they can prove that repeated, threatening, unwanted emails were not sent by them but by someone who hijacked the defendant’s email account and used it to stalk another person using the defendant’s name.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Defend Me?
When facing a felony charge, you should have legal representation. Contact a Nevada criminal lawyer immediately to find out more about your defenses and legal rights. The facts and circumstances of your case can be assessed by an experienced criminal defense lawyer near you.
The lawyer can also advise you of your rights, provide case guidance, and can represent you at trial. A lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights and help you take action against the stalker if you are the victim of internet stalking.