State Criminalizes Internet Dissemination of Distressing Images

The state of Tennessee recently passed a new Internet crime statute that makes it a crime to send disturbing messages to another person. A recent U.S. Politics Today report states that under this new law, law enforcement will gain access to suspects’ online activities from Internet providers and social networks as part of their investigation. This expands on the states current harassment law that makes it illegal to merely target an individual via electronic means.

A person will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if communicate with a targeted individual by knowingly sending electronic messages or images in a manner that will intimidate, frighten or cause emotional distress, or the intended target is emotionally distressed, intimidated or frightened as a result of the electronic communication. The penalties include fines and jail time.

Some legal commentators express concern over the new law’s effect on free speech now that prohibited activities include the general posting of images on the Internet. There is also Internet privacy concerns in regards to law enforcement’s ability to obtain court orders and warrants to review a person’s online history.

Only time will tell whether or not other states, including Colorado, will follow suit and expand their harassment laws to govern what people can post on the Internet and what they cannot post. Colorado law makes it a crime to threaten or harass a person using electronic means such as email, instant messaging or Internet chat. Harassment is a Class 3 misdemeanor in Colorado. If the targeted individual was targeted because of his or her race, nationality, ancestry, color or religion, then it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If you are charged with harassment and believe you are innocent, you will need an experienced Castle Rock criminal defense attorney who has a proven track record with harassment cases. Your attorney will review your case and assess whether or not your actions constitute harassment.

If you have a concern about your legal rights, remedies, and obligations contact our experienced lawyers of the Law Office of Ellmann & Ellmann.

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