Have Legal Questions? Ask a Lawyer Now.
Good morning. I'll be assisting you with your question.
Do you know the nature of the communication directed at her? What has she told him regarding contacting her?
The communication from him to her has been in the form of emails or text messages to her email account.
Here is her most recent response to him:
I'm not responding to them because response to your emails usually escalates quickly into something that is negative. When I mentioned being able to potentially meet a year and a half ago, it spiraled out of control and you didn't seem to handle it well. I said then that I was mistaken and it would be better for us to not be in contact at all and speak again. This is no longer any sort of relationship or friendship, so there is nothing I "owe" you in terms of speaking, meeting, communicating, answering questions, etc. Any relationship or acquaintanceship we had was over three years ago and I don't want nor think it is healthy to have any resurgence of this.
Again, all I am asking that we continue on with our very separate lives and cease contact, as is there is no longer any reason to do anything different. My response to this should not be interpreted as opening a discussion or path for anything more than a response to your now multiple emails in the past few weeks.
I have asked for you to leave me alone and not contact me, and despite multiple requests for my privacy you have continued to contact me. When you begin a string of emails like this, I feel harassed. I am again starting to feel harassed by this, and ask that you stop.
In Virginia, there are several ways for a person to be charged with criminal harassment. The most relevant to your friend is communication that is intended to "annoy, harass or alarm" the target. This applies to both telephonic and eletronic communication.
The issue here, as it is in most harassment cases, is whether his communication to her was done with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm.
Clearly, this is a very subjective determination. There is no "bright line" test as to what is criminal harassment and what is not.
A judge or jury would look at the frequency of the communication, the purpose, and what steps the targeted person has taken to prevent the person from communicating with them.
For example, before this becomes a criminal case, she should take a few steps first, like blocking him on Facebbook, blocking his phone number and marking his email as spam.
Hm, granted I understand about the intent, would it matter that because she has told him she feels harassed and the emails continue then you could say that he is knowingly harassing her? Believe me, she has blocked his number and Facebook and flags all of his emails. Even if you mark it as spam you still receive it, thus harassment continues. She is flagging them for records purposes in case it does turn criminal.
While how it makes her feel is important, a judge or jury would look at what he intended, not how it was taken.
If she's taken those steps, but he's making efforts to circumvent them, then that gets her considerably closer to making a criminal harassment case.
Her next step should be to contact the police and let them go speak to him. For most people, when the police pay them a visit, they understand that things are serious and they back off. If he continues after that, I think a criminal case is likely.
Also, if he makes any sort of threats or expresses any violent intent, that should be reported immedeatly.
Hm, so she could ask the police to speak to him on her behalf? Based on what we have done so far? That might be very effective. How could we get a "record" of their visit to him. Yes, full up on the threat of viloent intent. We also suspect that he has "stalked" her Meet Up group (an online venture that brings people together for events out in town). Even if it isn't violent intent or threat, the fact that he has gone out of his way to find and insinuate himself into a position to meet her in person without her permission after her express desire not to, how can we classify that?
She would not really be asking the police to speak to him on her behalf as much as she would be reporting a crime (there is enough to report it at this point), and then letting the police investigation run its course. During the normal progression of an investigation, the police will almost always interview the suspect.
As far as getting a recording, the police are not obligated to record it, and, even if they do, they are not obligated to give her a copy. However, they may at their discretion.
Interesting, I figured we couldn't get a voice recording or anything, just some hard copy thing that says something to the effect of "X officer interviewed Y dirtbag on Z date..." But not the biggest deal because if anything more criminal came of it I know that the police station records would get pulled during the process.
I know it can be frustrating, but the process is what it is.
True. I think that you have answered all of my questions. Hopefully her most recent email will be the end of it and we won't run into him at her Meet Up group. I'll let her know what we talked about here and advise her as best as I can. Thank you so much, this has been so tearfully frustrating for her and I know that straight up talk is going to help her see the right path for dealing with this scumbag. Thanks again!
Glad to help.