The use of the internet has increased connectivity and the sharing of information. You can now post content with a few clicks. In this era where the internet is growing into extensive networks, you might commit an internet crime without knowledge. You need to consider the type of information you share.

Do you know that specific information you share online can have severe consequences? If you are unaware, you want to understand the potential consequences of doing so. Fortunately, before you face conviction, the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime and present sufficient evidence. Since the penalties for committing the crime are severe, you want to seek legal help immediately after the law enforcement officers arrest you.

Our determined lawyers at Restraining Order Law Firm offer legal advice and help you develop a solid defense to fight the charges. When the police arrest you for committing a crime in Los Angeles, we are here. The best time to start working on your case is now.

What is it Like to Post Harmful Information on the Internet?

It is an offense to post material that could cause harm, according to PC 653.2. The statute considers the offense indirect electronic harassment. The alleged defendant exposes the victim to danger by posting much information about their lives. Because the offense involves indirect harassment, you face the charges regardless of whether you have had physical contact with the victim. Posting harmful information is evidence of the crime.

The prosecution team can also find you guilty even when the victim does not suffer harassment from the person who saw the content. The court establishes your guilt when they link the information you share online with the potential to cause danger to the victim. Again, you can face charges even when the victim is unaware of the information online.

The rationale behind the court finding you guilty is that the prosecutor must prove the critical elements of the crime. Remember, the prosecutor cannot include information about other offenses, like battery, in your charges. This information is irrelevant to your posting harmful information on the internet.

Below are the main elements of the crime the prosecutor must prove:

Use of Electronic Devices to Commit the Offense

Since the crime is about posting harmful content online, the prosecutor must have used an electronic device to commit unlawful behavior. When they do so, they show you interacting with a device that can expose information online to other people. Usually, the prosecution team uses the collected data during your investigation to prove the use of electronic devices.

For example, they might access the site or retrieve your browsing history to see the information you posted and whether it compromises the victim's safety and privacy. In addition, texts on your device can help reveal additional information, especially when you text the victim before posting the information online. The gadget should have connectivity to the internet, which is the main detail about the case. These electronic devices could include:

  • Cellphones.
  • Video recorders.
  • Computers.
  • Fax machines.

The Information You Put on the Internet Could Cause the Victim Harm

The prosecutor will focus on the kind of information you put on the internet and examine whether it could harm the victim by attracting spite, agitation, or harassment from the public. Therefore, the prosecutor should show the information you shared could attract adverse reactions from different people. In this element, harmful content includes any information that could easily attract the general public to visit your home, workplace, or school or expose your identity to the public.

For example, you share information that could damage the victim's reputation, including sexual content. The information could attract annoyance from the people who see it. The prosecutor will more likely introduce the victim as the key witness to provide statements about the harassment they have undergone since the release of the content on the internet.

The Defendant Posted the Information Without the Victim's Consent

Many victims of harmful information posted online do not consent to the action. So, the prosecutor must prove the defendant did not have permission from the alleged victim to post their details. The evidence usually arises from the complainant's witness statement and the people present when the information was posted. For example, your children see you distributing online hyperlinks to spread the information. In this case, they become witnesses.

The evidence sources might also arise from the gadget you used to send the harmful information. For example, you face charges when you hack the victim's laptop or phone by installing malware to access it. In this case, the prosecutor can use the information to show the alleged victim did not allow you to post harmful content on the internet.

You Wanted the Victim to Suffer Harassment or Ridicule From the Public

The prosecutor must prove your malicious intent to expose the victim to their friends, family, or strangers. By examining your posted information, the prosecutor can assume your intent, mainly when you include negative attributes toward the victim. For example, you accuse the victim of promiscuity in marriage and state that they deserve all sorts of hate coming their way.

When you do this, you invite comments that annoy or harass the complainant or lead to them suffering physical harm, especially in public. The information is frequently unreliable and meant to make the victim feel bad. When the prosecutor proves the information is false, they conclude you had the motive to make the complainant suffer physically or psychologically.

What are the Legal Penalties for Violating California Penal Code 653.2?

You face a misdemeanor charge when you post harmful content against another person online. The crime attracts the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor probation.
  • A 12 months jail term.

Indirect cyber harassment is convicted under this law and attracts summary probation for up to 36 months. Probation is an alternative to facing an extensive jail term. Usually, your criminal defense attorney must convince the court to grant you probation rather than spending years behind bars.

When the court sentences you to probation, the judge imposes conditions on your probation. You must adhere to the terms and conditions of your sentence; otherwise, the court will reinstate the initial sentence. The following are the standard conditions of misdemeanor probation in California:

  • Compulsory engagement in individual or group therapy.
  • A requirement to appear at the predetermined court dates.
  • Completing a community service.
  • Paying fines.
  • The court may also issue the complainant with protective orders. The order ensures you avoid them and prevent electronic or personal communications.

Legal Defenses for Violation of California Penal Code 653.2

Since the law considers PC 653.2 domestic violence, the crime attracts severe penalties. Facing charges for the crime does not necessarily mean you face a conviction. With the help of a well-experienced criminal defense attorney, you can have the charges reduced, or the court can even drop the charges. The following are the potential defenses you can employ to fight the charges:

  • Lack of Intent to Harm the Victim

When you face allegations for posting harmful content on the internet, the prosecution team must prove you intended to harm the complainant. Using this defense, you can argue that you did not intend to harm the victim. However, when using the defense, you should accept that you posted the harmful information but did not intend to inflict fear.

The defense can work best in a situation where the complainant misunderstands you. After establishing your facts before the court, the prosecutor will find it challenging to conclude you are guilty of the offense.

  • Insufficient Evidence

The prosecutor must prove essential elements before you face conviction for the crime. Sometimes the prosecutor and the other investigating officers have evidence, but it is insufficient to convict you. So, when this is your situation, you cannot face conviction.

  • Withdrawal

Withdrawal could be another good defense to fight the charges. When using this defense, you first must accept that you shared harmful content about the complainant. However, immediately after realizing the information was harmful, you withdrew it. You might realize the effect of posting the information when the anger subsides.

  • Police Misconduct

In California, we have many ways of dealing with police misconduct. They include unlawful searches and failure to read your Miranda rights. According to the constitution, the arresting officers should read their rights during the arrest. When the officers fail to do so, the evidence gathered against you could be deemed invaluable.

When performing searches and seizures, the police must have a valid warrant to search your house. Otherwise, the court rejects the evidence they gather. Remember, case dismissal cannot be guaranteed, even when police violate your rights. The prosecution team might ask the court to reduce the charge.

  • Involuntary Intoxication

Sometimes, especially when you are under the influence of alcohol and drugs, you might act without thinking about the consequences of your actions. However, you cannot employ intoxication as a defense unless it is involuntary.

For example, you become intoxicated and then decide to share harmful information. In this case, you can use the defense. The court considers your acts not voluntary when you act due to intoxication. You should, however, establish that intoxication was against your will.

  • Innocence

It is a legal defense to argue that you never committed the crime. The defense involves a total denial of involvement in the criminal activity. Therefore, you can deny posting harmful content online when you face charges for violating California Penal Code 653.2.

Sometimes, another person may post the content and try to hold you accountable. With the help of your criminal defense attorney, you can argue that you did not commit the alleged actions. When the defense is successful, the court can drop your charges.

  • Victim of Coercion

Coercion means someone forces you to engage in activities you could otherwise not have done willfully. For example, you can employ the defense when someone with unresolved issues moves you to post the content. Sometimes the person could cause you to commit the crime by using blackmail. You should, however, have evidence to prove someone forced you to commit the crime. Often, ensure you work closely with your criminal defense attorney.

What Is The Relationship Between Domestic Violence And PC 653.2?

Harassing another person in California can either be indirect or direct. You commit domestic violence when you threaten a domestic partner. According to PC 13700, domestic violence involves any form of abuse of a family member or intimate partner through intentional or willful use of physical force or fear of the person.

Note that domestic violence occurs when there is abuse or physical harm. Domestic violence laws apply if your actions are geared towards causing harm to another person. Who is a domestic partner? You must understand the group of people the law considers domestic partners. These people include:

  • A current or former spouse.
  • A current or former cohabitant.
  • A former or current fiancée.
  • A person you used to date.
  • A person you have a child with.

Offenses Charged Alongside Posting Harmful Information on the Internet in California

Posting harmful content on the internet is a crime that has several elements that match or are closely related to other cyber offenses in California. The court could charge you with one or more related offenses based on the nature of your crime. The charges vary based on the age of the victim and the type of content you share. These offenses include the following:

  • Cyberstalking – California PC 646.9

The statute disallows harassing or threatening another person or their close relatives using an electronic device until they feel unsafe. The following are the main elements:

  1. You maliciously and willfully followed or harassed the victim. The act of malicious means you intentionally did the action.
  2. You had the intent to commit the offense and inflict reasonable fear. The court determines whether you intend to inflict fear on the victim and their family.

In California, cyberstalking is a wobbler offense. So the prosecutor can choose to file a misdemeanor or felony charge based on your past criminal history and the severity of the crime. When charged with a misdemeanor, you face a 12-month jail term.

When the prosecutor chooses to file a felony charge, you face the following penalties:

  1. A jail term for a maximum of five years.
  2. Possibility of life-term registration as a sex offender.

Regardless of whether you face a felony or misdemeanor conviction, you could be subject to the following:

  1. Informal probation.
  2. Jail term for up to six months.

When you commit the offense while violating a restraining order, you also face a felony charge. In addition to the penalties you face, the victim can sue you for any damages related to stalking. The victim must, however, prove her intent. Working closely with your criminal defense attorney is always a good idea when you face criminal charges. The attorney will help you fight the charges and protect your future.

  • Annoying Emails, Messages, and Phone Calls – California PC 653

It is a criminal offense in California to make calls, send emails, or send texts with the aim of harming another person. When you face charges for committing the offense, the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime before you face conviction. The elements include:

  1. You made contact or calls using an electronic device.
  2. You applied obscene threats or language.
  3. You had the intent to harass or annoy.

When you commit an offense, you face severe penalties. The penalties include a jail term not exceeding six months. The court could also inflict informal probation. When this happens, you might become subject to counseling as part of your probation. Therefore, you want to seek legal counsel when you face the charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the legal process.

  • Revenge Porn – California PC 647

According to this statute, it is a criminal offense to disseminate or distribute another person's sexual material without their consent. The law also allows the other person to record you or take sexual images with them, but the information should remain private. However, you might share the recordings or images to make them feel embarrassed.

For example, you and your ex-girlfriend take naked images and videos for private use. However, things do not work between you; she moves on with another man. You post harmful information online when you realize she has moved on with her life. In this case, you can face charges for committing revenge porn, including:

  1. Summary misdemeanor probation.
  2. A jail term for up to six months.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Handling a charge of posting harmful content online without the complainant's consent is complex. It is wise to seek legal counsel from a criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charge. At the Restraining Order Law Firm, we have helped many clients facing criminal charges similar to yours obtain the best possible outcomes in their cases. We are ready to work with you if you seek legal services in Los Angeles. Contact us today at 424-600-7691 and speak with one of our top-notch attorneys.