Unfortunately, bullying has been around for centuries and has only adapted to the times. As such, teasing and harassment now occurs online via social media, text messaging, email, and chat rooms. Similarly, many teens and young adults engage in this behavior without understanding that they may face criminal consequences. Keep reading to learn more about cyberbullying and how a Cobb County criminal defense attorney can help you navigate these charges if accused of this offense.
What Constitutes Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is comprised of two primary offenses – harassment and stalking. When these occur via electronic communication, they are considered cyber crimes.
Harassment via electronics occurs when someone repeatedly contacts another person, threatening, harassing, or intimidating them or their family. Similarly, threatening bodily harm constitutes harassment. For example, continually sending text messages as a means to intimidate another person is an example of cyber harassment.
A more serious charge associated with this act is cyberstalking. When technology is used to repeatedly contact or surveil another person or their family, they may face stalking charges. This can occur even if the cyberstalker never made obvious threats of violence toward the victim.
What Are the Penalties?
Unfortunately, those who engage in cyberbullying aren’t aware that they can face severe consequences for their actions.
Those charged with harassment can face a misdemeanor which warrants up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine. Stalking carries the same penalties as harassment if it is a first offense. If someone is convicted of stalking for a second time, they will face between one and ten years in prison. Stalking violations are also subject to a permanent restraining order that bars them from contact with the victim.
What Should I Do if I’m Facing Charges?
If you’re facing charges related to cyberbullying, it’s vital to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. This is especially true for children, as some circumstances call for those under 16 may be tried as adults in Georgia. Similarly, once a child reaches 17, they will face the adult legal system as opposed to a more lenient juvenile court.
Though it may not seem likely, there are options for possible defenses. In some circumstances, the First Amendment right to free speech that does not pose an immediate threat to others may be covered under this amendment. However, it’s crucial to understand that the line of when speech is protected is very thin. Similarly, if a victim of stalking was not reasonably fearful, it may not warrant a stalking charge.
Facing any criminal charges, even if they don’t seem severe, can impact the rest of your life. As such, our dedicated legal team will do everything possible to help you navigate the complexities of these charges. Contact the Miller Law Practice today to learn how we can assist you through this challenging time.