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Online stalking is a family law issue

Most people are familiar with the phenomenon of stalking -- physically harassing a person, perhaps by following them or hanging around their home, workplace or other places they frequent. Cyberstalking involves the same elements, but is primarily electronic in nature. A person may gain access to a person's text messages or emails. He or she may also follow the person online through social media, such as Facebook or Twitter and leave abusive comments there.

Online stalking is a form of harassment that, while may seem innocent enough, can instill fear in the victim. Because this kind of behavior is so often related to domestic relationships, cyberstalking is often considered a family law issue, although like domestic violence, it involves criminal law as well.

Many states have laws in place that make online stalking or harassment illegal. This is especially true if the messages cause the victim to fear for the safety of himself or herself as well as family. In Georgia, electronic stalking is covered under the state's anti-stalking statute.

In some cases, cyberstalking is handled on the civil level, but sometimes it can be a felony. For example, if the offender makes threats -- particularly threats to kidnap or harm the person -- then he or she could be criminally charged. The offender could also be charged with improper use of computers.

Georgia residents have the right to be left alone and live their lives free of threats to their safety. Fortunately, there are legal protections in place, such as restraining orders, that can eliminate annoying and harassing behaviors and hopefully keep victims and their families safe.

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