Unfortunately, bullying isn’t anything new. School children across the country experience various forms of bullying on a regular basis. But with the rapid advancement of technology, the same bullying that was once limited to the playground can now make its way beyond the locked doors of homes by way of electronic devices.
What is Cyberbullying?
When an individual utilizes electronic devices such as a cell phone or computer to communicate threats or harassment, it is considered to be cyberbullying or cyberstalking. In North Carolina, cyberbullying is addressed under the school anti-bullying policy, but it is also addressed in criminal court when it has broken a law.
Cyberbullying is any bullying that occurs through digital devices including tablets, cell phones, and computers. Cyberbullying can occur in many places, such as over:
- Text Messages
- Instant Messages
- Social Media
Someone may be charged with cyberbullying in North Carolina under the state’s stalking law if he or she engages in two or more acts against the same, targeted victim and the bully either knew or should have known that such actions would either:
- Cause the victim to suffer substantial distress due to fear of continued harassment, bodily injury, or death, or
- Put the victim in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family member or friend.
Stalking is a class A1 misdemeanor that may include fines and jail time depending upon the specific details of the case.
North Carolina’s specific cyberbullying law makes it illegal to use a computer to engage in certain specific, prohibited behaviors such as posing as a minor with a fake user profile and communicating with or posting images or messages about a minor for the purpose of intimidation or torment of that minor of his or her parent.
Cyberbullying is a class 1 misdemeanor if the defendant was 18 or older at the time of the alleged crime, and a class 2 misdemeanor if he or she was younger than 18 at the time of the alleged crime.
Defenses to Criminal Cyberbullying Charges
Such as is the case with any crime; cyberbullying has several defenses that may apply. Such defenses include:
- Free Speech
- Reasonable Fear (whether or not the victim’s fear was in fact reasonable)
Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Cyberbullying
If you or a loved one has been charged with cyberbullying in North Carolina, a conviction can leave you with long-lasting consequences. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense attorney.
At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we understand how a conviction of cyberbullying can negatively impact many aspects of your life and will fight to minimize the consequences and the impact of your charges. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!