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Cyber Harassment Laws (PC 653.2) in California

PC 653.2: Cyber Harassment Laws

Legal Definition: “(a) Every person who, with intent to place another person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of the other person’s immediate family, by means of an electronic communication device, and without consent of the other person, and for the purpose of imminently causing that other person unwanted physical contact, injury, or harassment, by a third party, electronically distributes, publishes, e-mails, hyperlinks, or makes available for downloading, personal identifying information, including, but not limited to, a digital image of another person, or an electronic message of a harassing nature about another person, which would be likely to incite or produce that unlawful action, is guilty of a misdemeanor…”

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 653.2, the prosecution must show that:

  1. You used some kind of electronic communication device to electronically distribute, publish, email, hyperlink or make available for downloading a person’s personal identifying information or an electronic message of a harassing nature about another person;
  2. You did this without that other person’s consent;
  3. You did this with the intent to put that person in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family;
  4. You did this to imminently cause that other person unwanted physical contact, injury, or harassment; AND
  5. The personal identifying information or message you shared would be likely to incite or produce unwanted physical contact, injury, or harassment.

What does this mean?

Harassment, as defined in this section, pertains to a deliberate and purposeful set of actions targeted at an individual which any rational person would perceive as significantly distressing, bothersome, tormenting, or terrifying. Moreover, such actions must lack any legitimate justification. Generally speaking, engaging in harassment can never be considered as having a legitimate purpose.

Electronic communication devices encompass a wide range of devices including but not limited to cell phones, computers, telephones, and video recorders. This section also addresses the practice of “doxing” individuals online. In simple terms, this would involve sharing someone’s personal information, such as their address, phone number, driver’s license, or license plate, with the intention of causing them reasonable fear of impending harm. To provide an example, if an individual were to post a photo on social media along with their name and identifying information with the intent of instilling fear for their personal safety, this would be considered a criminal offense. It’s worth noting that even if no individual contacts or harasses the person based on the shared information, the act itself is considered a crime.


A violation under PC 653.2 is a misdemeanor offense only, meaning you cannot be sentenced to State Prison if you are convicted of this crime. However, as a misdemeanor offense, you could be sentenced to upwards of one year in County Jail if you are convicted. You would be required to serve 50% of that time in custody. You could also receive hefty fines of up to $1,000 for a conviction, as well as a possible Criminal Protective Order to avoid you ever having the chance to (lawfully) contact the alleged victim ever again.

This is not a Strike offense, since it is not a felony, and it is not the type of charge that is generally held against you for Professional Licensing or Immigration cases. However, a misdemeanor on your record at such a young age can affect your ability to work in the future and can slow down any application to a Professional job, by be required to list this conviction on your application.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of Rights
  4. Duress

Intent is an extreme aspect of the elements of this charge. If you are simply intending to prank another person, and lack the intent to put them in reasonable fear of their safety, then you cannot be found guilty of this charge. This can be a fact-specific question. A person could put another’s information online, and say something like “For a good time, call this number”. Maybe on its face, it doesn’t imply the other person could be in danger of getting hurt in any way, but it’s possible that a person could read that message and begin harassing the person and trying to make unwanted physical contact with that. It becomes arguable at that point. But, failing to show the intent needed, would show there is insufficient evidence to prove you guilty of the crime.

It could also be possible that police violate your rights, possibly by accessing your phone without lawfully arresting you, without your consent, or without a warrant. Violating your rights can limit the amount of evidence that can be used against you and is admissible in Court. Though it may not dismiss your case, it can lead to a better resolution if such evidence is obtained in Violation of your Rights.

Call Today

Navigating the legal ramifications of charges under PC 653.2, which involves Cyber Harassment or Internet Doxing, demands an experienced and strategic legal approach. Such charges can have profound and long-lasting consequences, including the possibility of significant imprisonment and additional criminal liability due to the risk of causing serious bodily harm.

In these situations, the expertise of a specialized attorney is invaluable. At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, our PC 653.2 Ontario Attorney brings extensive experience in dealing with such complex cases. We understand the intricacies of cyber harassment and internet doxing laws and are equipped to provide a robust defense tailored to the unique aspects of your case.

We recognize the critical nature of your situation and offer a complimentary initial consultation to help you understand your legal options and the strategies we can employ in your defense. Our commitment extends beyond regular office hours, ensuring that we are available round the clock to address any questions and provide the guidance you need.

For expert and trusted legal representation, don’t hesitate to contact Inland Empire Criminal Defense. Call us at 909-939-7126. Our office, located in Ontario, CA, is prepared to assist you in navigating this challenging legal landscape and safeguarding your rights.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Does the attorney offer confidential consultations?

Absolutely, Inland Empire Criminal Defense prioritizes your privacy and confidentiality. Every consultation with our attorney is conducted with the utmost discretion, ensuring your information remains secure and private.

Does the attorney offer payment plans?

Yes, understanding the financial pressures that can come with legal representation, our attorney offers flexible payment plans. This approach ensures that quality legal defense is accessible for all our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Is the consultation free?

Yes, Inland Empire Criminal Defense offers free consultations. This is part of our commitment to providing accessible and transparent legal services to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Are the consultations in person or only over the phone?

We offer both in-person and over-the-phone consultations to accommodate your preferences and needs. Whether you’re in Riverside, San Bernardino, or Los Angeles County, we ensure that you can access our legal services in the way that suits you best.

Is the office open on weekends?

Our office is typically closed on weekends. However, we do make exceptions for meetings by special arrangement. Our commitment is to be as accommodating as possible to meet the unique needs of our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Does the attorney serve all of California?

Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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