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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27727
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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An anonymous person has been disparaging my

Customer Question

Hello, An anonymous person has been disparaging my reputation among friends and colleagues with grave accusations and lies. While I have an idea of his identity, I can't prove it. What can I do? Can I have the police investigate? can I sue him assuming
that he is the one? he is not threatening me or blackmailing me but simply anonymous emails and letters to damage my reputation. Can't the police just go and look at his computer at the office or home so it can at least clarify it is him or not? Thank you
for your advice.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
My name is ***** ***** I am an experienced criminal lawyer.
No, unfortunately, police cannot just go and look at this person's computer on a hunch of yours. Our Constitution doesn't allow for them to go on those sorts of fishing expeditions. The police need probable cause -- a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed and that a particular person has committed it. And with that they need a warrant, where a judge, deciding for himself that there is probable cause, signs off on it and authorizes the search.
What you can do would be to hire a private investigator as he does not have to worry about the 4th Amendment and search and seizure rights, and see if he can come up with this person's computer IP number. Once he can establish that the person you suspect and the person whose computer is being used to make these disparaging statements are one and the same, THEN you can take the matter to the police , let them know you want charges pressed, and they can take it from there, or you could sue the person in civil court if you've sustained damage as a result of his allegations.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Zoey- thanks for your reply but can you please help clarify: we have a firm suspicion that the anonymous person is a past contractor to our business. The police however says that this is a purely civil case and not criminal. Can you please advise? Why is this not criminal when the guy is writing to 100s of people and intentionally spreading false accounts? How can I get the police to look at it as criminal?
PS. We searched the IPs and we couldn't come to any conclusion. We asked the person directly and he simply dismissed and didn't even reply. What can I do?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for clarifying.
If he were sending YOU hundreds of emails, that would be harassment. If he were making false reports to the authorities, that would be a crime as well. But if what he's doing is spreading untrue rumors about you to the general public to blacken your reputation and that of your business, that's defamation of character, which is a civil cause of action.
Massachusetts does not have a criminal libel statute. This can only be dealt with in civil court.