In many cases, the law falls behind advances in technology. However, New Jersey has adapted quickly to protect citizens from online harassment. With the advent of smartphone cameras, laptop cameras, spyware, and a multitude of online platforms, bullying another person has the potential to become a spectacle witnessed instantly by massive amounts of people.
Legislation Against Cyberbullying
Legislation against cyberbullying passed soon after a nationwide case. A Rutgers student committed suicide after his gay relationship was videotaped. Shortly afterwards, it became illegal to harass someone online.
Consequently, New Jersey has some of the strictest laws against cyberbullying, which is also known as cyber harassment. The term cyberbullying may lead one to believe that the law is directed at young people moving their bullying tactics to the internet; however, the law is quite broad, and it contains serious consequences for those convicted with a cyberbullying charge.
What Constitutes Cyberbullying?
Under the law, cyberbullying or cyber harassment occurs when a person intends to make an online communication that falls into one of three categories:
- A threat to inflict injury or personal harm to another person or their property.
- A threat to commit a crime against another person or their property.
- Sending, posting, commenting, requesting, suggesting, or proposing any material to or about another person that is lewd, indecent, or obscene with the intent to harm.
A threat to commit a crime against another person or their property is very broad; therefore, it enables law enforcement to bring various charges against the accused. It is notable that not all online language is protected by the First Amendment.
It is also possible for the authorities to introduce additional charges, such as terrorist threats, stalking, and harassment. Stalking is a federal crime and could increase jail time and fines for those convicted of the charges against them. If such charges are made against you, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer for legal counsel.
In New Jersey, an indictable offense is commonly known as a felony. A violation of the cyberbullying law is a fourth-degree indictable offense. If convicted of cyberbullying, a person can face up to 18 months in prison and monetary fines.
If the person charged is 21 years old or older and impersonated a minor with the intention to harass a minor, then it is considered a third-degree crime. This conviction carries a punishment of three to five years in prison. A monetary fine of up to $15,000 is also possible.
For those who are convicted of cyberbullying and are 16 years old, the judge has the discretion to include the parents or guardians of the minor to participate in educational and training programs about the dangers of cyber harassment. The judge can also issue that the convicted minor must participate in programs designed to reduce cyber harassment behavior. Parents who fail to complete the court order can be found guilty of a disorderly persons offense.
South Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers at Aita Law, LLC Assist Those Accused of Cyberbullying
If you or your child are facing cyberbullying charges, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer that will fight for your rights. You should not attempt to go up against such serious charges on your own. Our experienced South Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Aita Law, LLC have the knowledge and experience to protect your rights and help you obtain the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us online or call us at 856-287-7800 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. With offices located in Haddonfield and Marlton, New Jersey, we successfully defend clients who reside in Cherry Hill, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.
KENNETH D. AITA, ESQUIRE
Mr. Aita has successfully defended thousands of criminal cases. When you or a loved one is charged with a crime, it is an extremely daunting and frightening time. Criminal charges and convictions can have devastating effects on your life. You can be fired from your job, you can hurt your ability to get employment in the future, and most importantly could lose your precious freedom. Mr. Aita not only has the experience and expertise to represent you, but the compassion and understanding to help you through this difficult and confusing process. In a criminal case, everyone is against you; the police, the judge, and certainly the prosecutor, whose job is to get convictions. Mr. Aita is not only your skilled legal advocate, but is in your corner to protect you against the vast government resources that are against you. Make no mistake, fighting a criminal case is a war. You need an attorney willing to go to battle. Mr. Aita is in the trenches every single day tirelessly fighting for justice for his clients.