Internet Misconduct and Protection Orders
Internet misconduct can take many different forms. Sometimes it involves cyberstalking, cyber-harassment, or catfishing. It can be criminal, but in some cases, the conduct is not severe enough to be charged as a crime, even though it causes the victim significant distress. Whether you are trying to obtain a protection order based on Internet misconduct, or you are defending against accusations in a petition for a protection order in Washington, it is important to retain an experienced Seattle protection order lawyer. Blair & Kim protects your rights, freedom, and future.Protection Orders Related to Internet Misconduct
It is possible for a victim of online harassment or other Internet misconduct to obtain a civil anti-harassment protection order. There are also various other protection orders available depending on the situation, including domestic violence protection orders, sexual assault protection orders, no-contact orders, and restraining orders. A civil anti-harassment order can be obtained when the person seeking the order has been significantly harassed, alarmed, or annoyed by a course of conduct that does not serve a legitimate purpose and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress. The parties usually are not married or former cohabitants and do not have kids together.
When determining whether there was a legitimate or lawful purpose to the perpetrator's course of conduct, the court will consider factors such as whether the contact between the parties was initiated only by the perpetrator or by both parties, whether the perpetrator was notified that further contact with the petitioner was unwanted, whether the perpetrator's course of conduct was designed to annoy, harass, or alarm the petitioner, and whether the perpetrator was acting under any statutory authority, such as taking acts to protect liberty or property to meet certain statutory duties. The court will also look at whether the perpetrator's course of conduct was intended to interfere with privacy or create an offensive, hostile, or intimidating living environment, and whether there are any prior court orders in place.
A petition for a civil anti-harassment protection order is supposed to allege that there has been harassment, and it should include a sworn affidavit specifying the circumstances under which the petitioner is seeking relief. This petition can be made whether or not there are criminal charges pending against the person alleged to have perpetrated harassment.
Furthermore, a parent of someone under age 18 can retain an attorney to help petition for a protection order to restrain someone 18 or older from contacting their child if the contact is detrimental to the child's welfare. The parent can only petition to restrain another person under age 18 from contacting the child if the person to be restrained has been adjudicated of an offense against the child that is protected by the order or is being investigated for such an offense. The court is supposed to consider how severe the alleged offense is and whether there is continuing physical danger or emotional distress to the child, as well as the expense and disruption to school caused by transferring the person to be restrained to another school.
In some situations, Internet misconduct can give rise to either a civil anti-harassment order or a no-contact order as part of a criminal case. For example, a victim of cyber-stalking may report the matter to the police to investigate whether criminal charges are appropriate, or the victim may simply file for an anti-harassment order.
Under RCW 9.61.260, you can be found guilty of cyber-stalking if a prosecutor can prove that you had the intent to harass, embarrass, intimidate, or torment somebody else, and you electronically communicated to the other person or a third party by using lewd or obscene words or images, or you anonymously or repeatedly communicated with them, or you threatened to inflict an injury on the person contacted or a family or household member. The circumstances cannot be considered telephone harassment.
If the victim is specifically named in a no-contact or anti-harassment order related to a conviction under RCW 9A.46.060, the perpetrator can be convicted of class C felony cyber-stalking. Usually, cyber-stalking is a gross misdemeanor. This is one reason why it is important to challenge an inappropriate anti-harassment order. A person being restrained may inadvertently violate an anti-harassment order related to the Internet.Consult an Experienced Civil Protection Order Lawyer in the Seattle Area
If you are interested in obtaining or fighting a protection order based on Internet misconduct in Seattle, you should retain a skillful attorney who understands all of the potential legal consequences of taking action. In some cases, such as those in which the two parties have a domestic relationship, other protection orders may be more appropriate. Our firm has both a family law attorney and a criminal defense attorney, so we can evaluate all of the angles of your case to determine an appropriate strategy for you. We represent people throughout King County, including in Seattle, Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue. Call us at (206) 622-6562 or contact us via our online form.