Orlando & Miami Criminal Lawyer
call for a free
consultation

Is Cyberbullying a Crime?

The U.S. government’s stopbullying.gov website defines “cyberbullying” as bullying that takes place using electronic technology.  Essentially, the term “cyberbullying” describes the act of harassing, threatening or intimidating another via electronic means such as cell phones, computers, tablets, social media platforms, websites, and text messaging.  This behavior is illegal in Florida, and may be cause for criminal charges.

The Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All Students Act

The Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All Students Act prohibits bullying or harassment of any student or employee of a public K-12 educational institution.  The law specifically includes cyberbullying in its prohibition.  Bullying under the statute means “systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress” and may include:

  • Teasing;
  • Social exclusion;
  • Threat;
  • Intimidation;
  • Stalking;
  • Physical violence;
  • Theft;
  • Sexual, religious or racial harassment;
  • Public or private humiliation; or
  • Destruction of property.

The statute defines harassment as threatening, insulting or dehumanizing conduct (including verbal, written, or physical) that:

  1. Places a student in reasonable fear of personal harm or property damage;
  2. Substantially interferes with a student’s educational performance, opportunities, or benefits; or
  3. Substantially disrupts a school’s orderly operation.

By the statute’s terms, each school district must adopt a detailed policy prohibiting bullying and harassment that meets a lengthy list of requirements.  But, although the law prohibits cyberbullying, it does not impose criminal penalties for the behavior.  That task falls to another law.

Cyberstalking

Florida’s stalking law expressly encompasses cyberstalking, and provides prosecutors with a legal avenue to criminally punish cyberbullying behavior.  Cyberstalking is engaging in a course of conduct using electronic communication that is directed at a specific person, causing that person substantial emotional distress and serving no legitimate purpose.  Cyberstalking alone is a misdemeanor.  Cyberstalking coupled with a credible threat of harm is a felony.

Criminal prosecution of minors for cyberbullying

In the public imagination, the typical cyberbully is a teenager. A 2013 Florida case garnered national headlines when two girls aged 14 and 12 were charged with aggravated stalking for allegedly cyberbullying another 12-year-old who killed herself.  Although the case was heralded as a “tipping point” leading law enforcement to take these types of cases more seriously, a month later CNN.com reported that the charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence.  Thereafter, the case was handled confidentially by the juvenile court.

In another case to make the news, a 15-year-old girl in Hillside, New Jersey, was sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty to cyber harassment.  Her probation conditions included a requirement to complete an anger management course and an anti-cyberbullying training course, as well as 15 hours of community service.

Cyberbullying and harassment are a significant problem, yet the question remains whether criminal prosecution, especially of juveniles, is the most effective way to prevent such behavior.

Consult an Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been accused of criminal cyberbullying, you need an experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyer in your corner.  Especially if your child is the one facing the charges, a criminal conviction can have a life-long impact.  The skilled criminal defense lawyers of The Baez Law Firm have successfully represented both adults and juveniles in a wide range of criminal matters in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout Florida.  Contact us today for a consultation about your case.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
Miami Office

Miami Office

40 SW 13th St, Suite 901
Miami, FL 33130
Office: 305-999-5100
Fax: 305-999-5111
Orlando Office

Orlando Office

23 South Osceola Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
Office: 407-705-2626
Fax: 407-705-2625
Miami Office

Boston Office

6 Beacon Street, Suite 510
Boston, MA 02108
Office: 800-588-BAEZ
Orlando Office

Massachusetts Office

66 North 2nd Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Office: 800-588-BAEZ

Email Us

Fields Marked * Are required

Captcha Image

DISCLAIMER: Completing and submitting this form or otherwise merely contacting The Baez Law Firm or any individual at the firm will not establish an attorney/client relationship. Our firm cannot represent you until we determine that there would be no conflict of interest and that we are otherwise able to accept representation of your case. Please do not send any information or documents until a formal attorney/client relationship has been established through an interview with an attorney and you have been given authorization in the form of an engagement letter with The Baez Law Firm. Any information or documents sent via this form or otherwise prior to your receipt of an engagement letter will not be treated as confidences, secrets, or protected information of any nature. Submitting information regarding your potential case will not bar The Baez Law Firm from representing or continuing to represent a person or entity whose interest are adverse to your in condition with your case.

DISCLAIMER: This website contains information about The Baez Law Firm that includes testimonial statements from persons who are familiar with the firm's services. The testimonials shown are not necessarily representative of every person's experience with us. Testimonials from every client are not provided. As no two situations or persons are identical, the facts and circumstances of your situation may differ from those for which testimonials are shown. This website also includes information about some of the past results that we have obtained for our clients. Not all results are provided, and the results shown are not necessarily representative of all results obtained by us. No two situation are exactly alike; every person's situation is unique and the outcome for each person depends on the individual facts.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2015 - 2017 Baez Law Firm. All rights reserved.
This law firm website is managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab