Bullying is an unfortunate fact of life that affects people of all age ranges. The modern age and shift in communication and technology as well as the ubiquity of cell phones and social media has led to new, more popular forms of bullying. Among these many forms Is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” On the surface, it may seem like cyberbullying is mostly harmless but legally, cyberbullying can heavy charges and penalties.
Laws regarding cyberbullying are not fall under similar parameters to harassment. Cyberbullying has become so common that the state of New Jersey has created laws to accommodate. Here’s what the law has to say about cyberbullying, known legally as “cyber-harassment”:
Cyberbullying / Cyber-Harassment; N.J.S A 2C:33-4.1
a. A person commits the crime of cyber-harassment if, while making a communication in an online capacity via any electronic device or through a social networking site and with the purpose to harass another, the person:
(1) threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person;
(2) knowingly sends, posts, comments, requests, suggests, or proposes any lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person or place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm to his person; or
(3) threatens to commit any crime against the person or the person’s property.
Cyber harassment occurs when someone uses social media, email, text messaging, or any other form of electronic communication to harass and threaten a person.
Those charged with cyber harassment could face penalties in the fourth-degree. Penalties could carry fines as high as $10,000 and an extensive amount of time in prison, often up to 18 months. The laws get more specific in directly outlining a form of “catfishing” that is popular in cyber harassment. It is not uncommon for a person older than 21 (often a parent) to pose as a minor and harass a minor. Individuals charged with this kind of infraction could have five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
Cyber harassment is an extremely serious accusation that can quickly tarnish an otherwise good record and good reputation. It should be noted that these charges are often handed down based on whether or not the bullied party felt legitimately threatened. There is a lot of room for miscommunication and misunderstandings when it comes to cyber harassment.
If you or someone you know is facing charges for cyber harassment, contact a criminal defense attorney who could help. Contact the law offices of John W. Tumelty online or by phone at 609.385.4010 today to schedule you case evaluation.