Adolescent relationships are difficult and confusing already without adding the possibility of criminal charges for stalking a crush.
Don’t be creepy
Teenagers frequently have a hard time approaching and asking out someone they like with fear of being turned down and humiliated. Instead of getting up the nerve to talk to their crush, some may linger nearby–watching, sneaking a picture or two to gawk at with friends, and maybe going as far as sending their crush an anonymous text. While this may seem like innocent behavior from a shy, love-struck individual, the one being stalked may be creeped out and file charges.
When a person becomes aware they have someone tailing them, instead of being flattered it can be upsetting. They may notice someone observing them who stays hidden and never makes eye contact which can cause the crush to become fearful of the person’s intentions and therefore scared of being harmed. When the situation makes the crush worried or scared, it can be considered stalking.
According to Utah State Code “a person is guilty of stalking who intentionally or knowingly engages in a course of conduct [such as following, photographing, communicating, threatening] directed at a specific person and knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person: to fear for the person’s own safety ( . . . ); or to suffer other emotional distress.” A first violation of stalking is a class A misdemeanor. Subsequent violations could result in felony charges. Since many cases of stalking among teenager could be the result of an innocent crush, it is important to talk to a juvenile defense attorney to help clear the air and ward off potential charges.
A 14 year old middle school student from western Washington was charged with cyberstalking a teacher after he tried to solicit her for sex via Facebook.
Taking a teacher crush too far
Over the course of several months, the infatuated young teenager sent his adult female teacher nude pictures and videos of himself in hopes to start a sexual relationship with her. Once the teacher discovered the explicit messages, she contacted police to report the cyberstalking. Police arrested the teen for stalking his teacher online and also for child pornography since he included naked pictures of himself in the messages.
Cyberstalking in Utah
Washington State has a specific law regarding cyberstalking, but in Utah all forms of stalking fall under Utah Code 76-5-106.5. This law states “A person is guilty of stalking who intentionally or knowingly engages in a course of conduct [such as using a computer, the Internet, text messaging or any other electronic means] directed at a specific person and knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person: to fear for the person’s own safety or the safety of a third person; or to suffer other emotional distress.”
Increase in cyberstalking
With the large amount of time many teenagers spend online or on various apps, cyberstalking is unsurprisingly on the rise. Just as bullying people online is against the law, so is stalking others to the point of making them fearful. Laws of the state apply not only to events that happen in real life but also life online. Teens who are facing charges such as cyberstalking, cyberbullying or other computer related crimes should seek the guidance of a juvenile defense attorney.