If you have recently found yourself accused of online harassment, you may feel a bit panicked. It is easier now more than ever for something you say to come across the wrong way. Online interactions make it easy for people to misconstrue the meaning of a message. As such, it can cause arguments between people which can eventually lead to a harassment charge. In lieu of an online harassment charge, there are a few important things you need to know that can help you out.
Save the Entire Conversation
While it may be tempting to edit out pieces of a conversation you had with someone, it is better to save the entire conversation. When you get into an argument with someone online, it is likely the two of you will say unfavorable things about one another. The other party may become offended or perhaps you lose your cool and say something unkind. Either way, an online argument can lead to false harassment charges if you are not careful.
Although you might be worried that the context of your conversation may make you seem like a bad person, the entirety of the conversation is important. A lawyer will need to review the conversation as a whole to determine if harassment took place. Keep in mind that two people arguing back and forth does not constitute harassment. However, if the other party repeatedly asked you to stop or leave him or her alone and you did not, it is likely that you committed harassment.
Stop All Contact
When you are accused of harassing someone, it may be tempting to continue the conversation. Perhaps you feel the need to pester the person to ask why they made an accusation against you. You might even be tempted to reach out an attempt to apologize for any misunderstanding. It is important that you avoid any further contact with the person.
Continued contact may be deemed as harassment. Instead, allow your lawyer to handle all contact on your behalf. A criminal defense attorney will speak on your behalf when necessary to ensure that you are not breaking any rules or violating any laws that may further implicate you. Keep in mind that harassment is a common occurrence, especially online. Approximately 65% of 18- to 29-year-old internet users claim they experienced online harassment at some point.
Remain Calm and Collected
It is easy to get upset, especially when someone makes a false accusation against you. However, getting upset may only worsen your situation. Instead, a good criminal defense attorney will advise you to stay calm and collected. It is better to relax and allow your lawyer to handle the situation to the best of his or her ability. A lawyer will speak to the prosecution on your behalf and work out the best outcome possible.
Keep in mind that it is up to the prosecution to prove your guilt. The burden of proof always rests on the prosecutor's shoulders, and that is not an easy task. As long as you are open, honest, and provide copies of your online interaction to your lawyer, he or she can reduce your charges or even get them dropped. A reduction or complete dismissal of charges will ensure that you do not have to worry or stress over your situation.
Rather than handling false online harassment charges on your own, speak to a criminal defense attorney near you. It may be tempting to take the pro se approach of representing yourself, but without legal experience, you will seem like a fish out of water. A lawyer can assist you with the court process and ensure you receive a fair and just outcome.