Monday, January 04, 2010
Harassing Texts Lead to Cyberstalking Charges
Last week, police arrested Devar L. Hurd for cyberstalking the mother of R&B singer Ashanti Douglas. Prosecutors report that Hurd sent Ms. Douglas over 30 explicit text messages. Some of the messages qualified as “sext” messages, including several photos of his genitals and messages about performing graphic sexual acts.
California’s cyberstalking laws are codified in Penal Code 646.9 PC. Simply put, Penal Code 646.9 PC cyberstalking prohibits using any “electronic communication device” (including a cell phone) to threaten or harass another person with the intention of placing that person in fear for his/her safety or for the safety of his/her family.
While cyberstalking may seem less harmful or intrusive than “traditional” stalking, the offenses are prosecuted and punished in much the same way. In fact, cyberstalking can actually be just as dangerous as traditional stalking, due in large part to the fact that blog postings, chat room conversations, and even e-mails can be sent anonymously. Because of this fact, law enforcement agencies have formed specialized units to aggressively investigate cyberstalking claims.