Some states do not clearly define cyberbullying as an individual crime by itself, but others have spelled it out as a specific criminal offense. Florida defines cyberbullying as the act of intimidating another individual through the use of any digital technology or any electronic communication. This includes communication by ways of the internet via email communications and instant messages. It also includes posting on websites, chiefly social media sites and blogs including the posting of images. Using continuous communication by smart phone texts and faxes to harass or intimidate also comes under this inclusion of the statute.
Any person who repeatedly harasses another individual using an electronic method of communication to systematically and chronically inflict psychological distress as well as public humiliation can be charged with a crime in the state of Florida. The law also prohibits bullying by non-electronic means at public institutions of education. It is recommended that each individual school sanction its own aggressive anti- bullying policy.
The difference between bullying and harassment whether conducted by electronic means or in an actual real life setting is that bullying is considered to be a constant recurring attack while harassment can; in most instances be a onetime event.
A person charged with cyberbullying can be found guilty of a misdemeanor crime if the alleged offender deliberately, malevolently, and repeatedly harasses or stalks another individual through the above mentioned methods. It can be charged as a felony if the person taking part in it makes a credible threat to their quarry.
At the time of the writing of this page being added to my Website there are no clear federal laws that speak to the issue of cyberbullying as a crime. However in many cases, any type of bullying may intersect with discriminatory harassment which is included within federal civil rights laws. These laws are enforced by the U.S. Department of Education assisted by the U.S. Department of Justice. They include instances of fraternity hazing, excessive teasing, and bullying among other labels given to this criminal misbehavior. Schools are obligated under these laws to address activities that meet this type of conduct.
To meet the criteria of becoming a crime in a school setting the acts must be shown to be pervasive or persistent as well as severe; creating a hostile environment which is adequately serious enough that it inhibits or limits a student's ability to play a part in or benefit from the opportunities, activities, or services the educational institution offers.
Examples of these are threats of violence, posting sexually explicit messages or photos, displaying a person in an uncompromising position by image or video which invades their expectation of privacy, as well as stalking, and can be labelled hate crimes if they involve the victim's race, color, national origin, or physical or mental disability.
To read a recent high profile case that occurred in Florida, involving this type of crime, which ultimately had all charges dropped, click here to view a related article posted to my blog.
Cyberbullying as a misdemeanor is punishable by a sentence of up to a year in jail as well as a fine not to exceed $1000. As a felony, the sentence can be a jail term of up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5000.
If you or someone you care about is accused of cyberbullying there are numerous defenses that can be used to fight these types of charges. It is imperative to retain a qualified criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible time.
To view all of my qualifications and understand why my law office is the correct choice for fighting charges of cyberbullying or any other criminal charges, click here.
*Outstanding criminal defense in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Palm Beaches as well as all the immediate counties in the surrounding areas of South Florida since the turn of the twenty-first century.
**All Articles and Web pages that have been used to research this blog post, in full or in part can be found on the Internet at the links listed below: