Dallas – In her chapter, “Strategies for Preventing and Prosecuting Cyberstalking or Harassment Crimes,” Thompson & Knight Partner Rose L. Romero discusses the increase in cyberstalking and online harassment crimes due to evolving technologies and the legal considerations of prosecuting such crimes. The article was published in the 2014 edition of The Impact of Recent Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Cases, a publication of Inside the Minds™.
According to the article, “mobile devices and services that collect location and other personal data about their users make it easy for stalkers to learn the location and activities of their targets, and act to cause them significant mental, physical, and financial harm.” The author states, “Prosecutors and law enforcement agencies are taking these crimes seriously” and “armed with new federal and state laws, prosecutors are able to reach offenders across jurisdictional lines, use high-tech tools to identify offenders, and present compelling evidence of the crime.”
The article explains the recent changes in the law and notes the importance of considering “the accused’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, whether the charges involve federal or state laws, and existing protective orders and criminal history” for those defending cyberstalking charges. Romero outlines the following steps attorneys should consider when defending these cases: (i) thoroughly review the evidence and methods used to collect it; (ii) “determine if the communications constitute protected speech; (iii) obtain information regarding the relationship between the defendant and the complainant; (iv) engage forensic experts to examine” any questions of mistaken identity; and (v) “review and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case.”
Romero is a Partner in Thompson & Knight’s Trial Practice Group in Dallas and co-chairs the Firm’s cross-practice Data Privacy and Cybersecurity team. She is a former executive assistant United States attorney in the Northern District of Texas and regional director in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Fort Worth Office. Her practice focuses on government investigations, white-collar grand jury investigations, SEC examinations and investigations, and cybersecurity issues. Romero also counsels clients on data privacy solutions, cybersecurity regulatory developments, the development of effective cybersecurity compliance programs and incident response plans. She conducts internal investigations of cyber incidents and helps companies prosecute offenders. She is a frequent contributor to panels and publications concerning new developments in the cybersecurity area.