Cyberstalking in Illinois: Old Game, New Rules.

With the permission of the Illinois Family Law Gazette, a website about Illinois divorce, child custody, child support, and family law, I have republished the below article about cyberstalking in Illinois.

It is below:


Unfortunately, there’s nothing new about stalking in Illinois. Stalking can happen during an Illinois divorce, in a dating relationship, or between total strangers. Though before perpetrators had to spend time following victims or conducting surveillance in person, the Web now allows stalkers to terrorize from their computers.

Thankfully for Illinois cyberstalking victims are protected by Illinois anti-cyberstalking law (720 ILCS 5/12-7.5). The law is very liberal in its definitions of what constitutes cyberstalking, both in terms of the type of communication channels that can be used to cyberstalk, and what the stalker has to say or write in his communication.

What modes of communication are covered?

Even though the law is entitled “Cyberstalking” by the Illinois legislature, a stalking can violate the statute without using the Internet.

For instance, where the law refers to “electronic communication,” it covers use of the Internet as well as  ”any [other] transfer of signs, signals, writings, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectric, or photo-optical system. ”

The use of the term “any other transfer of signals” means that just about any electronic means of communication could fall under the prohibitions of this statute and be considered within the liberal definition of “electronic communication.” For instance, since mobile phones transmit by “radio” waves, mobile phones are covered. So are fax machines, since they transmit by “wire.”

The point is that if a victim is being stalked in a way that includes receiving any type of electronic communication, it is quite possible that the stalker is violating the Illinois “Cyberstalking” statute.

What type of stalking is prohibited by this statute?

The stalker is in violation of this particular statute when the following occurs.

  1. Generally: Electronic communication is directed at a specific person (not a group of people), and the stalker knows or should know that as a result, reasonable person would either: (a)  fear for his or her safety, or the safety of a third person, or (b) suffer emotional distress.
  2. Threats or creating fear of imminent harm: The stalker knowingly, and without legal justification, sends electronic communication is used to harass another person on at least two separate occasions, and one of the following also occurs:
    1. Threat: the stalker transmits threats of future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint and the threat is directed towards that person or a family member of that person, or
    2. Fear of immediate harm: the stalker places the intended victim or a victim’s family member in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint; or
    3. Solicitation: the stalker knowingly solicits the commission of a crime (as defined by the Illinois Criminal Code) an intended victim or a family member of the intended victim.
  3. Website use:  A stalker can be in violation of the cyberstalking statute (720 ILCS 5/12-7.5) when the stalking knowingly and without lawful justification, creates and maintains an Internet website or webpage which is accessible to anyone else for at least 24 hours, and which contains statements harassing another person and one of the following occurs:
    1. Threats: the stalker communicates a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint, where the threat is directed towards that person or a family member of that person, or
    2. Fear of immediate harm: the stalker places that person or a family member of that person in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint, or
    3. Solicitation: the stalker knowingly solicits the commission of a crime (as defined by the Illinois Criminal Code) an intended victim or a family member of the intended victim.

Resources for Illinois Cyberstalking Victims

There are a number of resources that stalking victims can use:

  1. Police: Illinois stalking victims can call their local police and report stalking behavior. Calling the police can help protect stalking victims and can create a record of the stalker’s behavior.
  2. National hotlines: National telephone hotlines can assist people that need help. Before you contact a hotline, consider avoiding using a phone or email to which your stalker may have access (in terms of listening in to a phone line, viewing your Web browsing history, and the like).

    The National Center for Victims of Crime
    Phone: 800-394-2255

    The National Domestic Violence Hotline:
    Phone: 800-799-7233




Gov. Quin backs Illinois Civil Unions

The Associated Press is reporting that Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois could legalize civil unions before the end of 2010.

Wikipedia’s post on civil unions compares civil unions to marriage. “Civil unions can often come under other terms such as registered partnership and civil partnership. [C]ivil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights, benefits, and responsibilities similar (in some countries, identical) to opposite-sex civil marriage. In some jurisdictions . . . civil unions are also open to opposite-sex couples.”

According to the Associated Press, Quinn said in an interview with the suburban Chicago newspaper Daily Herald that the Illinois civil union measure has enough votes to pass during the legislature’s fall veto session.


Illinois family law, divorce and child custody information

The Family Law Gazette has some interesting information about Illinois family law, divorce, and child custody. The Family Law Gazette seems like it is a productive way for people involved in family law, divorce, or child custody cases to become more familiar with the process.

Foster v Wolkowitz in the Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court granted leave to appeal the case Foster v Wolkowitz in response to the defendant’s request.

The procedural history of the case represents a disturbing willingness to subbvert the UCCJEA. For instance, the UCCJEA mandates that when jurisdiction is at issue, judges from both states have a judicial teleconference where they determine which state should hold the initial hearing that will determine which state will have jurisdiction. In this case, both the Illinois and Michigan judges issued orders directing the Michigan court to hold a hearing to determine home state under the UCCJEA. However, the Michigan court failed to do so; the Michigan court essentially lied to the Illinois court. Had the Michigan court told the Illinois court it would not hold a UCCJEA home state hearing, it is unlikely the Illinois court would have agreed to hold such a hearing in Michigan. Once the hearing was scheduled in Michigan, the Michigan court defied its promise to Illinois and took jurisdiction under an entirely different law. On appeal, the Michigan court then issued another totally novel holding when it upheld the trial court, but on different grounds that rely on a disturbing interpretation of the term “initial custody determination.” This case is a disturbing example of the type of forum shopping the UCCJEA was meant to prevent, and as a result, a small child is suffering for lack of a relationship with the Illinois parent.

Many observers have expressed shock at the subversion of the UCCJEA at both the trial and appellete levels. Terry Blankerk, an attorney from Flint Michigan, exhibited the usual surpise when in his blog posting he summed up the case as “MOM RUNS TO MICHIGAN WHERE SHE ONLY VISITED, DOES MICHIGAN HAVE JUSISDICTION, YES!”

Improper Incentives Explains Many Child Custody Disputes

The problems surrounding sharing custody of children can be explained in terms of inappropriate incentives. Until all incentive for using children as weapons is removed, parties will continue to do so. Removing the incentives to use children as weapons can be done in several ways.

  1. The courts must not overlook perjury and baseless accusations, as it so often does; under the current system parties are incentivized to lie and exploit because they face no repercussions for doing so.
  2. The child support system needs reform so that the primary custodial parent is not incentivized to pursue more time with the child solely because he or she will receive more child support.
  3. Where initially a child spends a disproportionate amount of time with one parent, the other parent need not overcome a high bar of “change in circumstances” in order to move more towards parity in time spent with the child; making modification easier will decrease the abuses that parties perpetrate in trying to capitalize on the massive advantage that comes with obtaining the most “beneficial” initial custody and visitation determination and schedule.

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