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What You Need to Know About Ohio’s New Cyberstalking Law

April 27, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

When a new law takes effect, it is important that citizens and residents know the details of the latest legislature and any impact it may have on their life and rights. Ohio has recently passed a new law regarding cyberstalking that is waiting on the signature of the governor to go into full effect.

According to the Ohio House of Representatives, the Ohio Senate and House concurrently passed the amendment to Substitute House Bill 151. The bill’s purpose is to provide law enforcement agencies with ways to take criminal action against people who are allegedly cyberstalking someone. It expands the law surrounding the harassment by telecommunications and “menacing by stalking.” Under the terms of the new bill, if people cause another person to feel they are in danger because of any verbal graphic gestures or written communication online, such as text messages, email or social media, they can be charged with committing a crime.

The Washington Times states that multiple offenses under the new law could lead to a fifth degree felony while a first-time offense would be a first degree misdemeanor. With this law, a person does not need to experience any physical assault before law enforcement agencies can take action against the alleged perpetrator.

While the American Civil Union of Ohio does warn that there may be some phrasing that has the potential to threaten a person’s First Amendment right of free speech, it did not formally oppose the bill. However, it is fully supported by the prosecutors of Ohio and seen as a way of demonstrating that the state of Ohio has no tolerance for this type of behavior.

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