Monday, January 30, 2023

Can I Go To The Police For Online Harassment

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Harassment is harassment. There are many harassment cases that are not social media related but which have an aspect of internet use or social media postings to them. You dont need to see the harassing posts about you in order to feel harassed. It is often the knowledge that the posts are there, which causes the harassment and distress. Unfortunately, nearly always, harassment that happens offline ends up spilling to the internet. One of our clients was not on any social networking site and had no information about herself posted online previously.

Her harasser went to great lengths to harass her online, despite there being nothing readily available to him to comment on. He went and created dozens of websites and social media accounts which were reported to our client and as such had caused her harassment. The harasser travelled around the world and thought he was hiding behind the internet and would never get caught. The police were unable to arrest him because he had no fixed abode in the UK. We found him and made him accountable. If you are experiencing online harassment where your harasser is sneaky and the police are unable to help, get in touch with us now. We are sure we can help you.

Penalties For Online Harassment

An online harassment charge is serious. Depending on the severity of the accusation and the number of offenses, it can range from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony . Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail and fines of up to $4,000. Third degree felonies can land someone in jail for 2 to 10 years and may have fines as high as $10,000.

Online Harassment Laws In Texas

With the prevalence of the internet in all our lives, lawmakers have more seriously looked at issues that are specific to online behavior. New laws have been made just to address online interactions. For example, soliciting sex from a minor has always been illegal, but separate laws have been made for doing so online.

The same is true for harassment. Harassment between individuals has long been a matter of law, but with new communication methods comes new forms of harassment. Online harassment is illegal in Texas, and the charges are serious.

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What Doesnt Count As Harassment

What is considered harassment will vary not just on the motive of the harasser, but on the effect it had on the victim. Conduct that has caused harm and damage to the other person unintentionally is not legally seen as harassment.

The line between a harsh joke and harassment can be very thin. For instance, someone can say to you, I want to kill you right now, but that in itself doesnt constitute a threat or harassing behavior. You would need to prove the context and that the intent of the person who said it was serious. Even if the other person didnt mean to follow up on their words, their very aim to intimidate you would be enough to classify their words as harassing behavior.

To prove their intention and the effect it had on you, you would have to provide evidence. This could include:

  • Proof of similar threats from the same person in the past
  • Footage of the incident
  • Other relevant proof detailing the particular context when the individual made that remark

Getting Information Help And Support

Harassment &  stalking : Northumbria Police

Information about your case

  • Check the status of your case by contacting the police.
  • Be sure to use the police file number assigned to your case.
  • Stay in touch with the police, victim services and the Crown prosecutor and let them know of any changes to your address or telephone number.

Community Resource List

Create your personal community resource list. In addition to the police, there are a variety of organizations that can offer support or helpful information. Look in the white, yellow or blue pages of your telephone book for contact numbers for the following local or provincial agencies:

Helpful Resource

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Other Steps You Can Take To Curb Online Harassment

Fortunately, in most cases online harassment is not likely to lead to actual violence. Most of the time the person or people engaging in harassment are bullies looking for a response. In this kind of a case your best response is no response.

  • Create screen shots of all harassment
  • Block the person or people harassing you
  • Have your friends/relatives block the people as well
  • If the person calls you do not answer the phone. Do not answer calls with no caller ID identification.
  • Report the activities to the website
  • Do not engage with the person. Do not ask other people to engage with him either.
  • If there are threats of violence, contact the police.
  • Does Harassment Reported To Police Has To Involve Threats

    Harassment might be a silent act and does not have to involve threats. To constitute harassment, the harassers action only needs to cause the victim alarm or distress and be an action that took place more than once. Sometimes, if the victim knows that there is something out there on the internet about him, that is enough to constitute harassment even if the content does not include explicit or implied threats. Just to know it is there could be sufficient to be harassment. You can read more about What is Online Harassment.

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    Save The Harassment Data

    Depending on your phone, you may be able to take a “screenshot” of the data. If your phone is not capable of doing so, you can use a camera to take photos.

    You will also want to “Lock” or “Protect” each harassing message. But you still must be sure to have backup copies in the event that something happens to your phone so your data is not lost.

    What Can We Do About Cyberbullying

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    Minnesota law requires each school district in Minnesota to put policies in place to address cyberbullying. The intent of the law, in part, is to raise awareness about an issue that can negatively affect school safety and performance, but whose importance may be misunderstood or overlooked by many adults who did not grow up in an Internet era and many children who may not yet understand the impact of bullying behavior.

    Parents, children, schools and communities can work together to prevent cyberbullying by talking about healthy standards and boundaries regarding Internet use, privacy, violence, and social interaction. Although some adults may be intimidated by a new generation that at times may seem to know more about technology than they do, it is important to engage children on who they are communicating with electronically, and what they are communicating about. Parents, children and communities may consider the following tips in addressing cyberbullying and online harassment:

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    When Is It Harassment By A Landlord

    The criminal offence of harassment is when your landlord, or anyone acting on their behalf – for example, an estate agent – does something deliberately that interferes with the enjoyment of your home and is intended to make you leave, or take away your rights.

    Examples of harassment include:

    • interfering with or cutting off services, like water, gas or electricity
    • visiting your home regularly without warning, especially at night
    • using threatening behaviour or being physically violent

    How To Report Harassment The Easiest Way With Donotpay

    Harassment can happen to anyone, anywhere. It could happen in the workplace, on the street, over the phone, and on the often conveniently anonymous internet. You could be harassed by anyone, including former lovers, your neighbors, or your landlord. The official statistics on different types of harassment in the U.S. are concerningly high across the board, which probably means that the real picture is even grimmer.

    So, what does it mean when somebody is harassing you? Sadly, there is more than one answer to this question. Harassment is an umbrella term that can cover a multitude of different types of abuse. Under U.S. laws, harassment is described as any repeated or uninvited contact that serves no useful purpose beyond creating alarm, annoyance, or emotional distress.

    As a society, we are at risk of getting desensitized to harassment and bullying. This is all the more reason to educate ourselves, speak up, and stand up against the abuse.

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    Collecting Evidence: Information To Investigate And Document

    Ask the complainant about, and query all relevant databases for, information on the suspect. Search under known aliases as well. Databases queried should include Canadian Police Information Centre , Canadian Firearms Registration Online ,Footnote 99 Special Interest Police , Firearms Interest Police , local and provincial information systems, and available probation information sources /Level II). Where applicable, immigration and refugee authorities may have relevant information. In some cases, consider contacting prison institutions for further information on the conduct of the suspect, or relevant information relating to the complainant. These queries should include searches for criminal records, prior contact with police and contact with police in communities where the suspect may have previously lived. If the criminal record indicates similar charges, determine the identity of the victims in those cases and the nature of their relationship with the accused.Footnote 100 These queries should cover the following:

    In cases of former intimates involving children, include any history of involvement with child protection authorities.

    Determine possession of or interest in weapons or access to weapons . Determine the following, for example:

    Police Report To Crown Counsel

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    Forms used for the purpose of reporting to Crown Counsel must clearly address and document the key elements of the offence . Practices vary among jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions have tailored a specific investigation report form for the collection of pertinent facts. Police agencies and prosecution services that work together should use an agreed-upon format or checklist of information that will provide Crown counsel with the information needed to deal with various stages of court proceedings, including the following details:

    Information on the prohibited conduct

    Reasons why the victim reasonably fears for his or her physical, emotional or psychological safety

    Details of changes the victim has made in response to the fear, such as whether the victim has:

    • moved to a new location or obtained a new phone number
    • recorded all telephone conversations and messages
    • told friends, family, co-workers or building security of the harassment, and given photos of the accused to these persons
    • arranged escorts to his or her car and work site
    • changed his or her work schedule or route to work
    • stopped visiting places previously frequented
    • taken a self-defence course
    • received counselling or other psychotherapy
    • altered his or her behaviour in any other way

    Evidence that the accused knew their actions harassed the victim or was reckless as to whether the victim was harassed, such as the fact that:

    Information on factors related to those problems, such as:

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    Report Threats And Crime

    General Public

    Members of the public can report violations of U.S. federal law or suspected terrorism or criminal activity as follows:

    Contact us online

    Contact us via telephone or mail

    Harassment From A Family Member Or Ex Romantic Partner

    If you are being harassed online with threats of violence by someone who is a family member or with whom you had a romantic relationship, there are special laws to protect you. The laws fall under domestic violence and involve obtaining protection from abuse orders or other forms of specialized restraining orders. These orders normally come from a civil family court as opposed to through criminal court. Frequently, you can seek an emergency order if the threat is great enough. In these cases, your best bet is to speak with a family law attorney who handles protection from abuse orders in your jurisdiction. If you cannot afford an attorney, look into domestic violence groups near you. They can often guide you to low cost or free legal advice. You should also call the police under these kinds of situations.

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    What To Do If You Are Harassed By Your Ex

    If you are harassed by your ex, whether by messaging you on social media, by referring to you regularly on blog posts or by posting your intimate images on the internet without your consent, you will almost certainly feel harassed. You should report this to the police at the earliest opportunity. The posting of intimate images without consent is a criminal offence by itself which is commonly known as revenge porn. Any other unwanted communications, which happen on more than one occasion, would be covered under harassment law.

    If your ex published a website about you, this would also be considered as harassment even if the website only contains one page and was only posted once to the internet. Make sure you report this to the police. If what your ex has posted is pictures that you have taken of yourself, you will own the copyright to the pictures and you will also be covered under the common law right to privacy. If the police are unhelpful, consider making a civil claim against your harasser in relation to any or all of the above-mentioned wrongdoings.

    Advice To The Complainant

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    Remind complainants that the potential threat remains, even if they have reported the incident to police and/or obtained a restraining order. Advise them that they have a primary role to play in ensuring their own safety. Recognize that, although it is not fair, victims may be required to alter their lifestyle and usual routines, schedules, transportation routes and places regularly frequented. Emphasize the importance of self-care in order to avoid extreme stress and exhaustion, which may decrease their ability to stay alert or follow a safety plan.Footnote 93

    Advise the complainant not to initiate contact with the suspect or agree to such contact.

    Advise complainants to tell the stalker to leave them alone only once and not to respond to the stalker’s subsequent communications, regardless of whether they are threatening or polite. Victims should also avoid trying to bargain or reason with the stalker, as such actions may be perceived by the stalker as encouragement or a sign of weakness, and thus increase the potential risk of harm to the victims.Footnote 94

    Advise the complainant to maintain a log of all contact with the suspect, including drive-bys and all unusual events, no matter how trivial they seem or whether they can be definitively attributed to the suspect. Advise the complainant that this includes keeping records of any indirect contact the suspect initiates by having the suspect’s friends and relatives contact the complainant on the suspect’s behalf.

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    What Are Examples Of Internet Harassment Or Cyberbullying

    Internet harassment, also referred to as âcyberbullyingâ, is the term used to describe the use of the Internet to bully, harass, threaten, or maliciously embarrass. It can involve behaviours such as:

    • Sending unsolicited and/or threatening e-mail.
    • Encouraging others to send the victim unsolicited and/or threatening e-mail or to overwhelm the victim with e-mail messages.
    • Sending viruses by e-mail .
    • Spreading rumours.
    • Making defamatory comments about the victim online.
    • Sending negative messages directly to the victim.
    • Impersonating the victim online by sending an inflammatory, controversial or enticing message which causes others to respond negatively to the victim.
    • Harassing the victim during a live chat.
    • Leaving abusive messages online, including social media sites.
    • Sending the victim pornography or other graphic material that is knowingly offensive.
    • Creating online content that depicts the victim in negative ways.

    What Can The Police Do About Internet Harassment

    If you are listened to you when you are reporting harassment to the police, a police officer will try to contact your harasser to arrange for them to give their side of the story. In cases of serious harassment, the police will visit your harasser and may then give them a verbal warning, issue a formal Harassment Notice or arrest and ask them to attend a police station for a formal police interview.

    Following the police interview, the police may refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to charge your harasser with a criminal offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Unfortunately, this could be a lengthy process and there is no guarantee that at the end of it, your harasser will be prosecuted.

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    How To Deal With Harassment On Facebook

    Did you know that, according to Statista, 77% of online harassment victims reported that they had been harassed via Facebook? If you find yourself in this situation, here are :

    • Unfriend the abuser
    • Block the person
    • Report the person or their abusive posts

    In case the offender starts bothering you in messages on Facebook, there are a few steps specific to that situation that you should take, including the following:

    • Block messages from that person
    • Report the threatening message
    • Click on Ignore Messages
    • Delete the conversation

    If you decide to delete the conversation, dont forget to take a screenshot first so that you have proof of harassment for future use if need be.

    Another useful thing you can do on Facebook is report harassment even if youre not the victim, but your friend is.

    Facebook gives you an option to report posts that show hate speech, violence or harmful behavior, or sexually explicit content.

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