Dr. Elizondo is Assistant Clinic Professor - Volunteer, and Dr. McNiel is Professor of Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Dr. Binder is Professor and Director of Psychiatry and Law Program, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA. [Email]
Adolescents are increasingly exposed to Internet-facilitated crime as they spend more time online. The mental health risks and legal consequences for youth involved in cyberstalking are growing areas of concern. The nature of online stalking presents several challenges regarding investigation, fair adjudication, fact-finding, and legislation. Laws governing online stalking behaviors inconsistently reference the age of a victim or perpetrator as a factor for consideration in case disposition. During adjudication, the forensic psychiatrist may be asked to evaluate the victim or perpetrator involved in cyberstalking. This article focuses on the current legal landscape governing cyberstalking behavior involving adolescents, the roles a forensic psychiatrist may assume in this context, and the opportunity to bring a developmental perspective to these cases.