Judge says work email not covered by stalking law

Source: Stalking Law Does Not Cover Email Addresses, Judge Says | New York Law Journal

Interesting. A New York judge determined that if someone who is stalking you uses your work email address as part of his/her campaign, it does not fall under the state’s stalking laws, i.e., it isn’t physically your place of employment:

A woman’s work email address does not equate to a “place of employment or business,” and thus her ex-girlfriend could not have stalked her by sending unwanted messages to the account, a Manhattan judge decided.

Criminal Court Judge Steven Statsinger said state law refers to a distinct physical location when mentioning a place of employment or business, and he would apply the same standard to an email address when answering what he said was a question of first impression.

Defendant Monique Marian argued that a fourth-degree stalking charge brought against her under Penal Law §120.45(3)—one of three misdemeanor stalking charges she faced—must be dismissed because her alleged criminal conduct did not take place at her former girlfriend’s place of work, as the idea is commonly understood.

Although this decision could make a lot of people who have been e-stalked uneasy, the stalker did do other things that were considered criminal stalking. This one charge–stalking on her victim’s work email–was dropped but not the others. Indeed, a new charge was added [I’ve bolded the sections I personal found most illuminating–I knew nothing about this law until now]:

[The judge] dismissed that part of the information charging Marian under Penal Law §120.45(3). But he said a fourth-degree stalking charge brought against her in the same information under Penal Law §120.45(2) may stand because it hinges on Marian exhibiting a course of conduct of contacting a victim repeatedly after being asked to stop—behavior that is not dependent on contacts with the victim at work.

He said a companion charge of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, also a misdemeanor, was not affected by the email-at-work question and that it stands.

In addition, prosecutors brought a new fourth-degree stalking count against Marian under §120.45(1), a more general statute that defines conduct “likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property” of a victim as stalking.

Each of the remaining charges are misdemeanors carrying penalties of up to a year in jail.

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