Cyberbullying and the law

Misdemeanor crimes come in many shapes and forms, but cyberbullying is one that you may not have considered. This is a relatively new crime in many locations, and some areas may not have specific laws on the books yet. However, in places that do, cyberbullying is generally seen as a misdemeanor crime, but it could also result in civil penalties or jail time. If you’re accused of it, it’s important to know what kind of penalties you’ll face in your own state and local jurisdiction. Penalties vary widely, so your attorney may need to focus on a strong defense to protect you.

Cyberbullying refers to the bullying that happens online or through digital means. For example, if you take an inappropriate photo of a person and share it on social media to make fun of that person, then you’d be considered a cyberbully. Cyberbullying can actually be more traumatic than other kinds, because social media can allow these photos or videos to spread quickly. Instead of only one or two people making fun of a person, several hundred or even thousands of people could see the image or videos, leaving that person the subject of public humiliation.

Cyberbullying itself wasn’t recognized as a crime until recently because no laws were specific enough to prosecute it. Today, legislators are changing that, and cyberbullying is becoming a target of changes in the laws. Typically, cyberbullying is still handled by the schools where it takes place unless it’s being spread by an outside source. In that case, a civil case could be launched against the person harassing another. Sometimes these cases are still treated as civil cases instead of criminal, but that can vary depending on the severity of the situation.

Source: FindLaw, “Cyberbullying,” accessed April 08, 2016