Is Cyberbullying a Crime in NJ?
Online Bullies Can Go to Jail
When you hear the word “bullying,” you may envision a group of kids harassing a lonely classmate by pushing them, teasing them and throwing their books. When you think of online bullying, you may think of people posting nasty, hateful comments on someone’s Facebook status or photo. Bullying has been an ongoing battle for decades, and it can take place both in-person and online.
Members of our society are transitioning to online learning, working from home and increasing their social media use due to stay-at-home orders and a lack of other social options during COVID-19. This means that now more than ever, we must discuss the nature and dangers of cyberbullying.
New Jersey Cyber-Harassment Laws
New Jersey’s cyberbullying, also called cyber-harassment laws, are as follows:
A person commits the crime of cyber-harassment if they do the following actions while communicating online via any electronic device or a social networking site with the purpose to harass another:
- threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person
- knowingly sends, posts, comments, requests, suggests, or proposes any lewd, indecent, 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
- threatens to commit any crime against the person or the person's property
If convicted, you may face a fourth-degree charge punishable by up to 18 months in jail and/or up to a $10,000 fine. If you were 21 or older and impersonated a minor in order to cyberbully a minor, you may face a third-degree charge punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and/or up to a $15,000 fine.
If your child was under 16 at the time of the incident, they may be adjudicated delinquent and be punished as such:
- They must take a class or training program intended to reduce the tendency toward cyber-harassment behavior
- They must participate in a class or training program intended to bring awareness to the dangers associated with cyber-harassment
A parent or guardian who fails to comply with their child’s court order is deemed a disorderly person and shall be fined not more than $25 for a first offense and up to $100 for each subsequent offense.
Charged for cyber-harassment? Don’t face your accusations without a qualified criminal defense expert on your side. Our attorneys at Brickfield & Donahue will aggressively defend your freedom and work diligently to help you put your charges behind you. Contact (201) 574-7919 to learn more!