What Is The Law For Online Harassment In Washington State?

by ECL Writer
What Is The Law For Online Harassment In Washington State?

Cyberstalking claims have increased in frequency as electronic communications and the internet have become commonplace in society. The crime of cyberstalking, which is prosecuted under RCW 9.61.260 and is related to telephone harassment, occurs when another type of electronic communication is used to “harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass” a victim. Cyberstalking can be either a felony or a gross misdemeanor, depending on the situation.

There are three types of cyberstalking, all of which involve the intention of intimidating or harassing another individual. The first is by using lewd, obscene, or indecent language or imagery, or by making suggestions that a lewd or lascivious act has been committed. The second type of communication, regardless of whether a dialogue actually takes place, is anonymous or repetitive. Threats of harm to a person, their property, or the person’s family make up the third. When all three of these criteria are met, the behavior qualifies as a gross misdemeanor, which carries a maximum 364-day jail sentence and a $5,000 fine.


The offense is upgraded to a Class C felony when the aforementioned criteria are met, the offender has either previously been found guilty of harassing the victim or the victim’s family or the behavior poses a danger to kill the victim or anyone else. As a category III offense, the penalty would be a minimum of 1-3 months in jail, but if there was a history of domestic violence or other felonies, the sentence could swiftly increase to prison time.

Any electronic communication other than telephone contact is considered a form of cyberstalking under the law. For the purposes of this statute, “electronic communication” includes contact by email, texts, messaging services, social media, and messaging applications. Additionally, the location where the violation was committed can be either the location where the transmission was sent or received. Law enforcement has sole discretion over it. In many cases, law enforcement will choose to file charges in the tougher jurisdiction or the jurisdiction where it will be most difficult for the accused to present a strong defense.

Do not disclose it with anyone, especially law police, if you think you are under investigation or have been charged with a cyberstalking offense until discussing with a lawyer.

Leave a Comment

This blog is ONLY for informational or educational purposes and DOES NOT substitute professional legal advise. We take no responsibility or credit for what you do with this info.