- What is Cyberstalking?
- The Law
- Legal Remedies
- Policy Reform
In North Carolina, violation of the state’s cyberstalking statute, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14‑196.3, is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Since North Carolina uses structured sentencing, the sentencing range depends on the number of prior convictions the offender has, however within the court has considerable discretion within that range.
An offender with no prior convictions will receive community punishment, which can include, but is not limited to, an authorized condition of probation, outpatient drug or alcohol treatment, community service, referral to T.A.S.C. (Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities), restitution, or fines.
Higher numbers of prior convictions allow the court to decide the sentence from a wider range of possibilities. For offenders with 1 to 4 prior convictions, the court can order a form of intermediate punishment or community punishment. Intermediate punishment can include a split sentence (period of confinement followed by a parole period), a residential program, house arrest with electronic monitoring, intensive supervision, day center reporting, or a drug treatment court program.
For offenders with 5 or more prior convictions, the court has the added option of ordering active punishment, which is confinement in a jail or prison. However, even with this tier of offender, the court still has the option to order either intermediate punishment or community punishment instead.
So an offender with 5 or more prior convictions who is convicted under the state’s cyberstalking statute could only receive a maximum sentence of 60 days in prison, and could receive as little as 1 day of community punishment at the judge’s discretion. There is also no increased penalty for multiple violations beyond the higher sentencing tier. Compare the punishment for violating the state’s cyberstalking statute with the punishment for violating the stalking statute.
Violation of the stalking statute, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-277.3A, is a Class A1 misdemeanor. Additionally, an offender who violates the statute after being convicted of a prior stalking offense is guilty of a Class F felony. Also, an offender who is convicted of stalking while a restraining order is in effect is guilty of a Class H felony.
North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission, Structured Sentencing Training and Reference Manual (2009), available at http://www.nccourts.org/Courts/CRS/Councils/spac/Documents/sstrainingmanual_09.pdf.