Criminal Stalking Charges?

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Types of Stalking

Although no typology is all-inclusive, the one developed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Threat Management Unit is used as a theoretical framework in threat assessments by both the Behavioral Sciences Branch of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Behavioral Sciences Section of the Ontario Provincial Police. It proposes three types of stalking behavior: simple obsessional, love obsessional and erotomanic stalker.

Erotomania is a delusional disorder in which the central theme is that another individual is in love with the stalker. The erotomanic stalker is convinced that the object of their attention, usually someone of the opposite sex, fervently loves them and would return the affection if it were not for some external influence. The person about whom this conviction is held is usually of a higher status than the stalker, but is not often a celebrity. The victim could be their supervisor at work, their child’s pediatrician, their church minister or the police officer who stopped them for a traffic violation but did not charge them. Sometimes it can be a complete stranger.

Love obsessional stalkers, on the other hand, can be obsessed in their love without possessing the belief that the victim loves them. Very often, the love obsessional stalker suffers from a major psychiatric illness, such as schizophrenia or mania, and wants to “win” the love of their victim.

The simple obsessional stalker is similar to what has been described, in other typologies, as the intimate partner stalker. Most of these stalkers have been in some form of relationship with the victim. The contact may have been minimal, such as a blind date, but more commonly it is a prolonged dating relationship, common-law union or marriage. The perpetrator refuses to recognize that the relationship with the other person is over and the prevailing attitude is “If I can’t have her (or him), then no one else will.” The stalker mounts a campaign of harassment, intimidation and psychological terror. The motivation for the harassment and stalking varies from revenge to the false belief that they can convince or coerce the victim back into the relationship.

Online Cyber Stalking

Criminal harassment can be conducted through the use of a computer system, including the Internet. Although this type of conduct is described in various ways, not all such conduct falls within Canada’s definition of criminal harassment. For example, “cyber-stalking” or “on-line harassment” is often used to refer to

  1. Direct communication through e-mail;
  2. Internet harassment, where the offender publishes offensive or threatening information about the victim on the Internet; and
  3. Unauthorized use, control or sabotage of the victim’s computer.

In some cyber-stalking situations, criminal harassment charges may be appropriate; however, depending on the activity involved, charges under sections 342.1 (unauthorized use of a computer), 342.2 (possession of device to obtain computer service) and subsection 430(1.1) (mischief in relation to data) should also be considered. Activities that can be considered cyber-stalking can include delivering threatening or harassing messages through one or more of the following:

  • E-mail
  • Chat rooms
  • Message boards
  • Newsgroups
  • Forums

Other variations of cyber-stalking

  • Sending inappropriate electronic greeting cards.
  • Posting personal advertisements in the victim’s name.
  • Creating Web sites that contain threatening or harassing messages or that contain provocative or pornographic photographs, most of which have been altered.
  • Sending viruses to the victim’s computer.
  • Using spy-ware to track Web site visits or record keystrokes the victim makes.
  • Sending harassing messages to the victim’s employers, co-workers, students, teachers, customers, friends, families or churches or sending harassing messages forged in the victim’s name to others.