Cyber-bullying is a form a bullying that takes place using electronic technology, such through a computer or cell phone. Most commonly, the bullying occurs on social media websites like Facebook, by e-emails, or over text messages. Recently, cyber-bullying became a crime in the state of New Jersey.
Many of us have made comments online that we later regret. So how do you know if you committed the crime of cyber-bullying?
New Jersey law refers to cyber-bullying as cyber-harassment. Under that law, you may have committed the crime of cyber-bulling if you:
- threatened to harm or injure another person or the property of another person;
- posted, sent, requested, or suggested indecent or obscene material about another person; or
- threatened to commit a crime against another person or the property of another person.
Moreover, you must have communicated the threats or comments online through some electronic device or social networking website. Another key element of the crime is your intent. In other words, you must have acted with the specific purpose to harass the other person.
The severity of punishments for cyber-bullying depends on a number of factors. Typically, cyber-bullying is considered to be a crime in the fourth degree. This means that it carries a possible jail sentence of up to 18 months. Cyber-bullying can be considered a crime of the third degree, which is more serious, if you are 21 or older at the time of the offense and you impersonated a minor for the purposes of harassing a minor. Under New Jersey law, crimes of the third degree carry a potential penalty of three to five years in prison.
Cyber-bullying can still be a crime even if the person who committed the act is a minor. Children and teenagers under the age of 16 who are found to be delinquent for cyber-harassment may face consequences. For example, they could be ordered by a court to complete cyber-harassment classes or programs. Or, their parents or guardians could be ordered to pay a fine.
Has you or a loved one has been charged with the crime of cyber-bullying? You should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.