Almost 15% of teenagers experience cyberbullying, which researchers speculate may contribute to increased anxiety and depression among teenagers.
With an increased reliance on cell phones and computers, this form of bullying occurs at all ages.
In many scenarios and in certain states, it is also against the law.
Can you go to jail for cyberbullying? Find out the consequences of online bullying here.
Can You Go to Jail for Cyberbullying?
Is cyberbullying illegal? According to Texas laws, yes.
In 2017, Texas passed David’s Law in honor of David Molak, who committed suicide after extensive cyberbullying. The new law makes it easier to seek punitive actions.
It is possible to face jail time as a result of cyberbullying, which is why it is important to seek the help of a criminal attorney if charges are pursued against you. Attorneys will investigate the charges, interview witnesses and negotiate with other parties.
However, the severity of punishments depends on the state, school laws and specifics of the bullying.
Harassment is a common method of cyberbullying that leads to jail time. Harassment occurs if an individual shows intent to harm the victim through his or her online communication and there is an imbalance of power.
This includes a number of scenarios:
- Provoking fights
- Intimidation techniques
Harassment leads to Class A or Class B misdemeanors.
Class A misdemeanors are as close as one can get to a felony. Consequences involve up to a year of jail time and fines.
Class B misdemeanors are for middle-ground crimes. They might result in 180 days of jail time and fines.
If an individual knowingly impersonates the victim of cyberbullying with malicious intent, jail time is also a possibility.
Online impersonation might involve creating a website under the victim’s name, posting comments as the victim and more.
This form of cyberbullying has severe consequences, including a misdemeanor or even a felony.
Can Misdemeanors and Felonies Get Removed From Your Record?
Texas law allows individuals to clean their record in certain circumstances.
Expunction, or complete clearing of your record, may occur if you were acquitted of the cyberbullying crime or found not guilty.
An order of nondisclosure, in which the crime remains on your record but is inaccessible to the public, is possible if the cyberbullying didn’t result in murder, harm to a child, a sex offense or other, serious repercussions.
It is important to familiarize yourself with Texas’s expunction and nondisclosure laws to learn if this is a possibility for you.
Other Consequences of Cyberbullying
Aside from jail time, cyberbullying can also result in heavy damages.
In many instances, a family or individual may file civil litigation against the cyberbully. If this occurs, the plaintiff sues for damages caused to the victim.
If a defendant loses, civil lawsuits result in damages paid to the plaintiff.
Other consequences of cyberbullying occur at school. Texas law requires schools to act to eliminate bullying. This might result in suspension, expulsion, restraining orders or more.
Defenses Against Cyberbullying
So can you go to jail for cyberbullying?
The answer is yes, and the consequences are far-reaching. Being accused of cyberbullying is not an offense to treat lightly.
Instead, rely on the expertise of a criminal attorney to build a solid case. Roland J. Garcia has extensive experience in helping those accused of a crime.
Don’t let your future be determined by a conviction. Call or message today to schedule a free consultation and discuss the specifics of your case.