Cyber Crimes in North Carolina
With the widespread use of the Internet, social media, and text messaging, North Carolina law has expanded to recognize a new category of crimes – cyber crimes. This blog will explore some of the cyber crimes recognized in North Carolina, namely “disclosure of private images,” “cyberstalking,” and “cyber-bullying”
Disclosure of Private Images
North Carolina has a law known as the “revenge porn” statute that prohibits the disclosure of private images? A person may be found guilty of this if they knowingly and without consent of the person, disclose a private image of another person with the intent to coerce, harass, intimidate, humiliate, cause financial loss OR cause others to coerce, harass, intimidate, humiliate, or cause financial loss to the person in the depicted image. Additionally, the person must be identifiable from the image and their intimate parts are exposed or the person is engaged in sexual conduct. If you are 18 or older at the time, it is a Class H felony. If you are under 18 years old, the first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and any subsequent offenses are Class H felonies.
Stalking and Cyberstalking
In North Carolina, “stalking” and “cyberstalking” are two separate crimes.
Stalking – Stalking is a crime in North Carolina. In short, if you willfully, on more than one occasion, harass or engage in conduct that you know or should know would cause a person to fear for their safety or suffer emotional distress you may be found guilty of stalking. The punishment for this a Class A1 misdemeanor, which is the most serious class of misdemeanors.
Cyberstalking – Cyberstalking is also a crime in North Carolina. It is classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is two levels lower than the crime of stalking. In North Carolina, it is illegal for a person to
- Use in electronic mail or electronic communication any words or language threatening to inflict bodily harm to any person or to that person’s child, sibling, spouse, or dependent, or physical injury to the property of any person, or for the purpose of extorting money or other things of value from any person.
- Electronically mail or electronically communicate to another repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues, for the purpose of abusing, annoying, threatening, terrifying, harassing, or embarrassing any person.
- Electronically mail or electronically communicate to another and to knowingly make any false statement concerning death, injury, illness, disfigurement, indecent conduct, or criminal conduct of the person electronically mailed or of any member of the person’s family or household with the intent to abuse, annoy, threaten, terrify, harass, or embarrass.
- Knowingly permit an electronic communication device under the person’s control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.
- Knowingly install, place, or use an electronic tracking device without consent, or cause an electronic tracking device to be installed, placed, or used without consent, to track the location of any person.
Cyber Bullying is a misdemeanor in North Carolina. If the defendant is 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense, it is punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the defendant is under the age of 18 at the time that the offense is committed, it is punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor. In North Carolina, it is illegal for any person to use a computer or computer network to do any of the following:
- With the intent to intimidate or torment a minor:
- Build a fake profile or Web site;
- Pose as a minor in:
- An Internet chat room;
- An electronic mail message; or an instant message;
- Follow a minor online or into an Internet chat room; or
- Post or encourage others to post on the Internet private, personal, or sexual information pertaining to a minor.
- With the intent to intimidate or torment a minor or the minor’s parent or guardian:
- Post a real or doctored image of a minor on the Internet;
- Access, alter, or erase any computer network, computer data, computer program, or computer software, including breaking into a password protected account or stealing or otherwise accessing passwords; or
- Use a computer system for repeated, continuing, or sustained electronic communications, including electronic mail or other transmissions, to a minor.
- Make any statement, whether true or false, intending to immediately provoke, and that is likely to provoke, any third party to stalk or harass a minor.
- Copy and disseminate, or cause to be made, an unauthorized copy of any data pertaining to a minor for the purpose of intimidating or tormenting that minor (in any form, including, but not limited to, any printed or electronic form of computer data, computer programs, or computer software residing in, communicated by, or produced by a computer or computer network).
- Sign up a minor for a pornographic Internet site with the intent to intimidate or torment the minor.
- Without authorization of the minor or the minor’s parent or guardian, sign up a minor for electronic mailing lists or to receive junk electronic messages and instant messages, with the intent to intimidate or torment the minor.