A new law is taking a step towards addressing Internet harassment in California. Now, it is illegal to create or alter email accounts and social media sites with the intent to harass or harm others. Until now, questions over jurisdiction and an absence of online laws have left individuals with little recourse to stop people from creating false identities and profiles online.
California’s new law is an attempt to stop that behavior and crack down on harassment. Now individuals convicted of impersonating others online could face time for their Internet crime.
Los Angeles Man Arrested for Creating Fake Facebook and Craigslist Pages
A Los Angeles local man is now paying the penalty for violating the new law. He created 130 false Facebook pages, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. In addition, he was also accused with posting sexually explicit Craigslist ads, all allegedly with the intent to harass his 16-year-old girlfriend.
Instead of arguing, he pleaded no contest to two counts of violating the new California Impersonation Law. As a result, he was placed on five years probation and 30 days community service.
California’s Internet Impersonation Law
Since Internet enforcement is new, many are unaware that their actions may constitute a crime. California recently passed a bill that criminalizes online impersonation, making it illegal to do so for the purpose of "harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding another person."
The Internet impersonation law specifically includes both email and social networking sites, making Facebook impersonations potentially illegal in California. Anyone convicted of this Internet crime could be subject to a fine of up to one thousand dollars and a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment.
In addition to the above outlined criminal penalties, civil penalties may apply. These may include any damages incurred by the victim including possible legal expenses. The penalties can add up quickly, and those charged need to ensure all legal rights are protected by seeking counsel from an experienced Los Angeles Internet crime attorney.