Is Cyberbullying a Crime?

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The act of bullying has changed quickly thanks to the invention of the Internet. Now it is possible for kids to bully someone who is miles away, outside of school hours when they can be held accountable. Most of us can agree that cyberbullying is bad behavior, but is it a crime? It can be treated like one in this state. If you have been charged with cyberbullying or related crimes, a Mercer County criminal defense lawyer from our firm is ready to help you defend yourself.

What is Cyberbullying?

Bullying no longer has to be done in person. Someone can harass or attack someone via social media, text messages, or even through apps and video games. Any bullying through these mediums can be considered cyberbullying and in many cases, it can be just as scarring as old-school, in-person bullying. So it is no surprise that New Jersey has passed laws aimed at curbing this behavior.

What Are the Punishments for Cyberbullying?

You can be charged with a crime for cyberbullying. Per NJ Rev Stat § 2C:33-4.1, most types of cyberbullying would be considered crimes of cyber-harassment. This is often charged as a crime of the third or fourth degree. It is also important to note that both minors and their parents can face charges.

The punishments for this crime can vary based on a few factors. Minors 16 years of age and younger could be required to go through a class that would teach them more about the effects of cyberbullying, but older people accused of this behavior can face harsher penalties. The court can be especially tough on defendants who are 21 or older yet pretend to be a minor online, specifically for cyberbullying purposes. So the most common punishments are:

  • Mandatory classes on bullying and its effects
  • Small fines for parents of minors charged with a crime
  • Community service
  • Fines
  • Jail time

Yes, it is possible to go to jail for cyberbullying.

What Are Some Other Potential Charges in Cyberbullying Cases?

People can go to jail for cyberbullying in some situations. Penalties can be far more severe if someone is:

  • Accused of a more serious crime, like cyberstalking
  • In violation of federal laws
  • An adult bullying a child

You can also face other punishments as a result of a conviction. If someone is charged in criminal court instead of a family court, that conviction could stay on their record, affecting job prospects and other areas of their life. If an adult working in education is charged with cyberbullying, they could quickly lose their job and find it quite difficult to find another position.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you or a loved one have been charged with cyberbullying or a related crime, you need to take it seriously. Reach out to the Law Office of Douglas Herring and schedule an initial consultation with our legal team. We would love to take the time to talk with you about your legal options.

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