Is Cyberbullying a Crime?

smartphone with social media apps

Cyberbullying has become more prominent in recent years, leaving many states looking for ways to curb the behavior. In New Jersey, you can actually be charged with a crime if you are accused of cyberbullying. If you or your child are charged and you believe that the accusations are false, you can fight back with the help of a Bergen County, New Jersey criminal defense lawyer.

What Can Be Considered Cyberbullying?

A broad range of behaviors can be considered cyberbullying. You can be accused of bullying if you:

  • Send harassing text messages
  • Text someone threats of bodily harm
  • Threaten bodily harm or property damage over a social media app
  • Send social media messages designed to cause emotional harm
  • Purposely spreading messages or images that will cause distress for another person

What Are the Punishments for Cyberbullying in New Jersey?

The punishment for cyberbullying can actually be rather harsh. The state of New Jersey takes these incidents seriously, often charging bullies with cyber-harassment or cyberstalking if their behavior has risen to a certain level. This can be a fourth-degree offense, carrying penalties of:

  • Up to 18 months in prison
  • A fine of $10,000

The penalties can also increase depending on certain factors, like the age of the cyberbully. If someone is 21 or older and impersonates a minor in an attempt to bully a minor, they could spend up to five years in jail and be forced to pay a $15,000 fine. Some acts of cyberbullying could also result in federal charges.

Minors aged 16 and younger who are charged with cyberbullying and related crimes usually face lighter penalties. They may have to pay a small fine or take a course on bullying and its effects.

Could There Be Other Personal and Professional Consequences?

People accused of cyberbullying can also face punishments aside from jail time and fines. Just being charged can affect your:

Employment: An adult facing these charges could be fired. How every employer reacts to such behavior can vary, but there is no legal reason why they cannot fire an employee whose actions they do not want to be associated with.

Schooling: Many schools have their own policies about cyberbullying. Some institutions will do their own investigations into your behavior and could expel you or punish you in another way.

How Can I Defend Myself or a Loved One Against Cyberbullying Charges?

There are ways to fight back against accusations of cyberbullying. Our lawyers can say that:

  • You or your child were merely exercising your right to free speech
  • A reasonable person would not have found the messages threatening or harmful
  • There was no intent to cause harm or fear

Schedule an Appointment With Our Law Firm

If you are in need of a defense lawyer with experience fighting cyberbullying and cyber-harassment charges, contact the Law Office of E. Gregory M. Cannarozzi. We can set up a consultation and tell you more about what we can do to help you fight for your rights.

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