A recent Illinois case illustrates how manipulating social media such as Facebook can run afoul of the law. In People v Gauger, the defendant used Facebook to harass his ex-wife. The ex-wife discovered that defendant had reactivated her old Facebook account when a friend asked if she had sent a new friend request. The ex-wife also received invitations from a third party who had never sent them. Defendant instead had set up a fictitious account using the third party’s name.
The court convicted defendant finding the evidence “overwhelmingly establishes that the defendant directly or indirectly through third parties monitored and communicated to or about Ms. Carswell through his Internet activities.” Because defendant had violated an existing order of protection, his offense was upgraded to aggravated stalking.
The defendant appealed, arguing that the part of the stalking statute dealing with communicating to or about someone had been struck down. The appellate court, however, reasoned that the anti-stalking statute also prohibited monitoring. Monitoring meant watching, keeping track of or checking another, usually for a special purpose. The court said, “Even without the Facebook messages, the evidence showed that defendant created at least one fictitious Facebook account in the name of Carswell’s friend, downloaded pictures of her and her family, and apparently even obtained mail addressed to her.” Defendant’s course of conduct therefore satisfied the definition of monitoring.
If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. To prove stalking, the state must show that you knowingly engaged in a course of conduct that you knew or should have known would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her or a third person’s safety or that you caused the victim to suffer other emotional distress. Can the state prove all these elements beyond a reasonable doubt?
Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.
If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)