“BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) – The new cyber stalking law went into effect in June and already someone’s been charged. A Barrington teenager is facing charges of cyber stalking because of comments he made on Facebook.
Cyber stalking is harassing someone online.
“A stalker doesn’t really have to follow you to terrorize you. They can do it through the internet,” said State Representative Elaine Coderre who spearheaded the act in the state legislature.
Police say the 15-year-old Barrington boy met a 16-year-old girl while taking classes this summer and they started to talk through Facebook.
But police say the 16-year-old felt uncomfortable when the messages started getting inappropriate.
Police started the investigation in July and now they’ve charged the minor with cyber stalking, which is now punishable under the domestic violence prevention act.
But, for those who say domestic violence is a harsh penalty for a 15-year-old allegedly harassing someone online, Representative Coderre says its not what she envisioned with the law but it might stop it from happening to someone else.
“If this is an activity he’s engaging in it might be a good wake up call not to do this.”
Representative Coderre says she worked with the Coalition on Domestic Violence for four or five years to make traditional stalking the same punishment as cyber stalking.”
While different groups have conflicting views over whether cyber-stalking can truly be considered domestic violence, the fact remains that a conviction for either crime carries serious penalties. In Rhode Island, a domestic violence conviction may include: jail time, heavy fines, batterer’s intervention counseling and loss of firearm privileges.
If you have been arrested and charged with a domestic violence crime, it is imperative that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend your rights. With aggressive, knowledgeable representation on your side, you have the best chance to avoid the life-altering consequences of a domestic violence conviction.