The emergence and continuous development of technology continues to create opportunities for people to communicate and keep track of one another. Numerous websites and cellular applications exist that allow individuals to anonymously send messages, track other's whereabouts, or expose private information. Many of these tools, while innocuously created to enhance friendships and make it easier to stay in touch, are being nefariously used to stalk and harass others through electronic means. The rise of stalking using electronic methods, also known as cyber stalking, gravely complicates the ability of law enforcement officers and prosecutors to adjudicate cases of stalking. This study examines the enforcement of cyber stalking cases in Central Florida through the lens of rational choice theory. In particular, the study evaluates the factors present in stalking cases -- specifically cyber cases -- which impact the rational choices made by law enforcement officers and prosecutors to pursue and process cases. The results of the study show that cases of stalking that involve both cyber and face-to-face components had the highest odds of an arrest occurring and/or charges being filed. Additionally, the study shows that cases of stalking, regardless of the method, had higher odds of arrest or charges if the victim took proactive measures to prevent future occurrences of stalking. Overall, the study found that various factors impacted the rational choices made by law enforcement officers and prosecutors in their decisions to move forward and continue pursing stalking cases. A major implication of this study is that victims should take proactive action to prevent stalking in order for cases to move forward in the criminal justice system.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Whitmire, Trisha, "The Arrest and Prosecution of Cyber Stalkers: How "Rational" are Criminal Justice Decision Makers?" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 151.