Domestic violence charges are often open to interpretation. Under Washington law regarding domestic violence, a number of crimes can be considered domestic violence if they involve two people who share a family or close relationship. This includes husbands and wives, ex-husbands and ex- wives, children, grandparents, two people who have a child together and even former dating partners. Whether a crime will be charged as domestic violence or not often depends on the prosecutor of the case. Domestic violence charges can include many things such as assault, kidnapping and harassment or stalking. One subsection of stalking laws is called cyberstalking.
Cyberstalking is defined as a gross misdemeanor under Washington law RCW 9.61.2601. This law states that cyberstalking is as an act performed with the intent to harass, intimidate, torment for embarrass another person involving electronic communication towards the victim or a third party. As technology advances and more people utilize online communication, cybercrimes including cyberstalking are a new area of law that must be interpreted. In Washington, cyberstalking is a gross misdemeanor that can lead to up to one year of jail time, up to $5,000 in fines or both.
Cyberstalking is a real area of that law that affects innocent people every day. Recently, a Seattle man was arrested in a cyberstalking case involving posting photos of woman. A local Fox News affiliate reports that a computer tech working in Seattle, Jeremy Scott Walters, obtained access to nude pictures of a woman after he was hired in 2011 to transfer data from her desktop computer to another computer. He allegedly threatened to show the pictures to her family and friends if she didn't "play along" and uploaded the photos to a revenge porn website. Additionally, Walters continued to harass the victim and even allegedly threatened to “tie her up and rape her.” Detectives in the case are looking to see if there are any more victims and believe that Walters admits he was "angry” with the victim but do not know for sure why that was.
If it is revealed that the woman and Walters formerly dated or had any other type of intimate relationship, this case could be considered domestic violence. This is an important distinction to make for many reasons. First of all, victims of domestic violence are eligible for no contact orders even before a conviction is made. This means that a suspect could be prevented from contacting or going within a certain proximity of the alleged victim even before they are convicted of any crime. Domestic violence convictions can also have long-term consequences including appearing on a criminal record that can affect child custody, adoption or divorce proceedings.
It is very important for anyone facing a domestic violence charge in Seattle to speak with a defense attorney right away. In cases of cyberstalking, what may seem like a prank or joke to someone could be a serious offense to another. Only by speaking to an experienced defense attorney can you fully understand the scope of your charges and penalties.