With the ever-increasing popularity of the internet, it is no wonder that there is a corresponding increase in the number of online-related crimes. There are multiple ways the internet can be used in a criminal fashion, ranging from identity theft to cyberstalking and harassment, and the repercussions can be serious.
For example, individuals who were stalked, harassed and embarrassed on the internet have gone so far as to commit suicide, and children thinking they were going to meet up with a “friend’ met on the internet have been lured into dangerous situations by adults with sexual motives. Recently, in Chicago a 15-year-old girl was allegedly group-raped while about 40 people watched the event on Facebook.
In the Chicago case, two juveniles, just 14 and 15 years old, have been arrested in connection with the sexual assault. The teens face charges including aggravated criminal sexual assault and manufacturing and disseminating child pornography. Questions arise as to whether those who viewed the rape online also bear some responsibility for not reporting the incident when it happened, but they are unlikely to be prosecuted under current law.
Illinois is one of the few states that have passed specific cyberstalking and harassment laws so that victims can press criminal charges against their online stalkers and harassers. Anyone who harasses another person through electronic communications may be found guilty of a crime.
Even “sexting” — the practice of sending nude or semi-nude pictures by cell phone or other electronic media — can be a crime in Illinois. Adults who sext juveniles, and also minors between 13 and 17 who create, send, or receive a sext, may be charged with the criminal offense of child pornography and are at risk of felony charges and being branded as a sex offender and having to register as one.
If you are accused of an internet-related or cyber crime in Illinois, be aware that a conviction can negatively impact your life forever. At this sensitive time, you need all the help you can get.
The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the seriousness of your situation. We know the courts and the criminal justice system, and how to look for loopholes, plea bargain, negotiate guidelines and recognize when to take your case to trial. We offer a free consultation, so contact us at 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss how we can best defend your rights and freedom.
What are Internet-related Laws in Illinois?
1.) Criminal Cyberstalking
In Illinois, cyberstalking is defined as using an electronic device to harass another on at least two separate occasions, including surveillance, threats, or harassing statements. Electronic communication includes communication via cellphone, voicemail, email, text, instant messaging, and any type of computer communication. The crime is considered to be a class 4 felony and could result in imprisonment of one to three years, a fine of up to $25,000, or both. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-45, 5/5-4.5-50. ).
Criminal cyberstalking involves:
- conduct that causes the target to fear for someone’s safety, or suffer emotional distress,
- harassing the target by threats or creating reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, or confinement, or
- soliciting another person to commit a criminal act against the target
It is also considered criminal cyberstalking when someone creates and maintains a website accessible to one or more third parties for at least 24 hours and that involves the above.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-7.5.)
In Illinois, anyone caught sexting a minor or receiving a sext message from a minor may have committed one or more felonies under the Illinois Child Pornography Act. These are generally Class 1 felonies, punishable by fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 and imprisonment for four to 15 years.
Sexts sent between consenting adults are not illegal. However, if a minor is involved, the law is harsh, as Illinois law considers it child pornography to film, record, or depict a minor in a sexual act. Child pornography can be committed by videotaping or photographing anyone under the age of 18 who is engaged in any sexual act or pose involving lewd exhibition of unclothed or transparently clothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast.
Depending on the circumstances, child pornography can be a Class 1, 2, 3, or X felony, punishable by 6-30 years in prison, and extended sentences of up to 60 years. For individuals 17 years or older, posting identifying or contact information of a minor on a website is a Class 4 or 5 felony.
Harassing another person through the use of electronic communications is considered cyberbullying and is illegal in Illinois (720 ILCS 5/12-7.5). Cyberbullying includes creating and maintaining a website or webpage which contains statements harassing another person.
Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.
Laws relating to cybercrime are complicated, so if you are accused of an internet-related crime in Illinois, you need a knowledgeable lawyer who can explain the law as it applies to your situation and give you proper legal advice. The Illinois cybercriminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who will examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and devise the most effective defense strategy possible. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.
We are aggressive litigators and will work with you to answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case. We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.
Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.