Lawyer Accused of Cyberstalking and Extortion
A Gainesville lawyer is being accused of a host of crimes including cyberstalking in a dispute with an ex-girlfriend. Christian Michael Moser of Gainesville allegedly threatened his ex-girlfriend after she reported him to police for harassment. Moser demanded that his ex retract statements she made to police.
His ex filed a complaint with the Gainesville police after he repeatedly texted her demanding to know about her past sexual history. According to the report, Moser threatened to contact the University of Florida’s faculty and administration if the woman, who is a student at the University, did not provide him with the details of her past sexual encounters. The woman, afraid that Moser could damage her reputation with the University, acquiesced and gave him that information, according to police.
Moser proceeded to compile a 10-page dossier on the woman’s sexual history and emailed it to her family, friends, and colleagues. Included in the report were details from her own private journals. Moser has pleaded not guilty to the allegations.
Moser has been charged with stalking, extortion, and tampering with a witness.
Examining the Stalking Charges and Florida Law
Stalking and cyberstalking are closely related crimes. Stalking is defined in Fla. Stat. § 784.048 as the willful, malicious, repeated, harassment of one individual by another. Cyberstalking is defined in Fla. Stat. § 784.048(1)(d) and simply includes electronic means of accomplishing the same goal. Harassment is defined as any action that causes a victim emotional distress. A person can be charged with stalking even if they only send text messages, emails, or other electronic communication. If these communications have the purpose of causing the victim emotional distress, then that qualifies under the definition of cyberstalking.
Aggravated stalking occurs when the defendant makes a “credible threat” against the victim, but for the purposes of the law, that threat must be of physical or bodily harm. In this case, Moser would be facing misdemeanor charges which are punishable by one year in jail and a $1000 fine.
Examining the Extortion Charges and Florida Law
Extortion occurs when one party threatens to do any of the following in order to gain some advantage or compel the victim:
- Accuse the victim of a crime;
- Expose the victim to disgrace;
- Expose any secret; or
- Impute deformity or lack of chastity.
Extortion is a second-degree felony which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years probation, or a $15,000 fine.
One potential defense to extortion is legal privilege. A lawyer cannot be sued for extortion if they are acting in the best interests of their client, but there are caveats and, simply put, this particular lawyer was not acting in anybody’s best interests but his own.
Witness Tampering Charges in Florida
Witness tampering charges are a third-degree felony in Florida. The state must prove that you knowingly threatened a person with the express intent of impacting their testimony.
In this case, the state has a strong case against Moser. His attorney will likely attempt to explain his behavior in terms of psychological stress and advocate that his client gets a lighter sentence and seeks counseling.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The Skier Law Firm P.A. defends those charged with crimes in West Palm Beach area. Give us a call or talk to us online to set up an appointment.