What You Need to Know About New York Cyberstalking Laws

Being followed by someone that makes you uncomfortable can be a terrifying feeling. Now, with widespread access to personal information through the use of technology, this issue has become much more prevalent than ever before. Stalking is a serious criminal offense that must be addressed, regardless of whether it happens online or in person. Here is everything you need to know about New York cyberstalking laws.

Cyberstalking, the use of electronic means to stalk another person, is prohibited by New York law just as in-person stalking is. Potential victims of stalking must remember not to contact their stalkers and should collect as many details about encounters as possible to report to the police. Numerous resources are available to those who need help.

What is Stalking?

According to the New York government, “stalking is a persistent and unwanted pursuit of an individual by another that would cause a reasonable person to fear.”

Stalking often involves an unhealthy obsession with another individual, which may be considered an annoying, intimidating, threatening, or harmful form of harassment. Stalking is a serious issue and an effective manipulation strategy that must be addressed, especially when it begins to inspire fear in the victim.

Signs of Stalking

According to New York guidelines, there are several common behaviors that stalkers have. Those behaviors include:

  • Following the victim
  • Watching the victim closely
  • Trespassing or lingering near the victim’s home or workplace
  • Stealing or vandalizing mail or property of the victim
  • Initiating unwanted contact or communications through deliveries, telephone calls, mail, pagers, email, or any other medium to the victim and her/his family, neighbors, or co-workers
  • Using digital or video cameras, GPS (global positioning systems), and other tracking devices
  • Monitoring the victim’s Internet history and computer usage

Related: New York Stalking Laws: Penalties & Possible Defenses

What is Cyberstalking?

Nowadays, with the increased integration of technology into society, cyberstalking is becoming an increasing threat. Cyberstalking is the use of electronic means to stalk another person. Thus, it is always in one’s best interest to protect their personal information online and be wary of what is revealed to the public.

Some instances of cyberstalking include:

  • Using a device to track another person and storing that information
  • Monitoring one’s internet history
  • Monitoring one’s online presence or internet history
  • Using technology to harass or threaten someone
  • Using technology to threaten
  • Causing emotional distress in the victim
  • Causing the victim reasonable fear of death or injury

What New York Laws Cover Stalking?

New York has several laws that address stalking. N.Y. Penal Law §§ 120.45, 120.50, 120.55, and 120.60 are statutes that identify stalking as a punishable crime with varying degrees. Someone who commits the crime in the first degree can face up to 7 years in prison for a class D felony.

Cyberstalking may also be identified as the unlawful use of a computer by N.Y. Penal Law §§ 156.05, which is a class A misdemeanor. Further, depending on the situation, online harassment may be punished with a $500 fine or up to a year in prison.

What Should a Victim Do If They Are Being Stalked?

Any victim or potential victim of stalking must act quickly. Notify law enforcement as soon as possible with thorough details about each stalking incident, such as the date, time, location, and other note-worthy pieces of information. Victims must not respond to the stalker. Any contact, even negative ones, may be seen as encouraging to the stalker.

For instances of cyberstalking, screenshots of messages should be saved and used when reporting the stalker. Victims should still avoid responding to the stalker, whether that be by refusing to respond to messages or by blocking the user.

Related: What is Willful Sexual Misconduct?

Resources if You or a Friend is Being Stalked in New York

If you or someone you know is being stalked in New York, please contact one of the resources listed below. For more information, refer to the official New York resource guide.

New York State Crime Victims Board
(800) 247-8035
New York City (800) 579-0689
Buffalo (716) 847-7992
Albany (800) 579-9541

New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
(518) 457-5800

New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
English: (800) 942 – 6906
Spanish: (800) 942 – 6908

New York State Capital District Anti-Stalking Task Force

Stalking Resource Center
(202) 467-8700

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about New York Cyberstalking Laws, get connected to an attorney with one of our Criminal Defense Attorneys in New York today!