How is cyberstalking punished?

Cyberstalking is an offence characterised by a series of acts, comments, behaviours or messages sent repeatedly to a person on the Internet to harm them. This degrading practice, whether moral or sexual, is severely punished by French law, which specifies the various methods of punishment. Here is what you need to know about the penalties for this practice.

Penalties incurred by the perpetrators

Repeated defamation, insults or threats on electronic communication networks do not only concern children. Adults can also use cyberbullying, for example, to destroy someone’s professional career or family life. The sanctions against perpetrators thus depend on their age. Victims of online harassment, on the other hand, can be of any age and from any background.

The cyberstalker is of age

When cyberstalking is committed by an adult, the penalty applied to the perpetrator takes into account the age of the victim. The perpetrator is liable to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros if he or she attacks a person over the age of 15. Otherwise, the perpetrator risks a prison sentence of 3 years and a fine of 45,000 euros.

The cyber-stalker is a minor

In this case, the legislator provides for punishment according to the age of the cyber-stalker. In any case, the civil responsibility for this act is assumed by the perpetrator’s parents, who are obliged to compensate the victim’s parents.

When cyberstalking is committed by a minor over the age of 13, the perpetrator is liable to a maximum of one year’s imprisonment and a fine of €7,500. This penalty only applies if the victim is over 15 years old. Otherwise, the cyberstalker risks 18 months’ imprisonment and a fine of €7,500.

Cyber-stalking committed by a minor under the age of 13 is subject to the specific rules on juvenile delinquency in criminal law.

The procedure for punishing cyberbullying
The victim of cyberbullying has several remedies to facilitate legal action.

Gathering evidence

As a prelude to the law enforcement investigation, the victim of internet harassment can proceed to gather evidence. One of the most suitable approaches is to take screenshots of the material incriminating the perpetrator.

It is also advisable to contact a bailiff in order to give these documents an authentic character. As such, they can be used as evidence before a competent court.

The victim’s complaint

A complaint of cyberbullying can be filed at a gendarmerie or police station or electronically at the Paris judicial court. Minors are also able to file a complaint. However, only the parents can file a civil suit to obtain damages for the injury.

Cyber-stalkers generally act anonymously or in groups. It is therefore sometimes difficult to identify them formally. In this case, the victim has the possibility of filing a complaint against X. The courts then take the necessary steps to find the perpetrators.

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