Bullying has always been an issue with school aged children. Most children’s movies and cartoons include a bully. Bullies were always considered a part of childhood, surviving your school bully was a rite of passage. The fact is, however, with the advances in technology, bullying is no longer that “innocent” hazing depicted in movies and cartoons. Young people are being victimized in large masses, both as accusers and accused.
Cyberbullying has become a significant issue in the twenty-first century. It is the act of bullying through electronic devices such as computers or mobile phones. The context may be text messages, social media, email or other websites. It can take the form of rumors, name calling, photos, or fake profiles. Statistically, victims of cyberbullying are more likely to: abuse alcohol and drugs, have lower self-esteem, have health problems, skip school, experience in-person bullying, and receive poor grades. Victims of bullying are more likely to become violent or suicidal than non-bullied children.
Cyberbullying may be done directly or anonymously and the actual bully can be difficult if not impossible to identify. Because of this, people can and have been falsely accused and/or convicted of criminal charges stemming from cyberbullying. You may also be at risk of a cyberbullying charge by mere misunderstanding. Most anything you post on the internet, including personal posts could possibly – if construed incorrectly – be considered a type cyberbullying. Persons accused of cyberbullying in the State of California may be charged with a criminal offense. California law makes it a crime to:
electronically post or transmit personal identifying data of another person OR a harassing message about another person with the intent to cause the other person to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of family members
It is also a crime in California to:
use a telephone or any electronic means of communication to contact another person and use obscene language OR make a threat to injure the person or property of the other person or a family member with the intent to annoy the other person
Both of these offenses are charged as misdemeanors in the State of California and are, therefore, punishable by up to a year in jail.
Allegations of cyberbullying may also have severe penalties educationally including expulsion or having a derogatory mark on your school transcripts. Victims of cyberbullying that retaliate through violence or other means may face charges criminally and educationally as well.
If you or a loved one is facing a cyberbullying charge or has been charged criminally for retaliating against a bully, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact cyberbullying defense attorney Domenic J. Lombardo by calling (619) 232-5122 to schedule your free and confidential consultation.