New cyberstalking law in New Mexico

Amarillo, Texas

by Larry Lemmons

Authorities in New Mexico applaud the state legislature for taking action quickly to expand stalking laws.

Several laws went into effect July 1st in New Mexico, including one that broadens the language in the current stalking law to include cyberstalking.

Minh Tran, the webmaster for Eastern New Mexico University in Portales says it's easy to find personal information on the web.  "From so many places that they can collect a pretty good amount of information about you. They can find where you're at. They can find out what you do, the schedule maybe online if you talk to somebody or you discuss online or in a chat room."

Cyberstalking is when someone gets that information and emails a victim or visits a social website and harasses a victim.  Police say the new law will enable them to treat cyberstalking like regular stalking. Captain Lonnie Berry of the Portales Police Department says  "With this in place it gives us an opportunity to take some enforcement action."

Current penalties depend on the number of offenses.  Berry adds, "It was a misdemeanor offense, of course we add some teeth in it, that if you are convicted of a second time or if you have a DVO in place, then there are some felony charges attached to that as well."

Knowing the danger, the University takes cyber-security seriously.  Wendel Sloan, Media Relations director of the university says,  "We do not provide addresses on the web for promotional materials, we just use their first name, we don't even provide phone numbers for students without their permission."

Tran says it's best not to put too much information about yourself online.