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Accusations of Cyberbullying Require a Strong Criminal Defense

Posted on in Criminal Defense

cyberbullying, Internet crimes, San Jose criminal defense attorneys, criminal charges, electronic harassmentBullying behaviors, such as calling others names or picking on aspects of their appearance, has long been a problem among school age children. With the Internet and social media sites allowing for easy communications and comments among users, it has become an increasing common problem with adults as well. When disagreements and differences of opinions turn into personal attacks, you could find yourself facing charges of cyberbullying. This is a potentially serious type of Internet crime that requires an aggressive defense to avoid both criminal and civil penalties.

Cyberbullying in California

The California Attorney General takes a strong stance against cyberbullying in light of the potential impacts it can have on victims. The anonymity provided by social media can often embolden this type of behavior, but the fact is you can easily be tracked down and charged for this crime, particularly if the person targeted suffers physical, emotional, or financial harm as a result.

Cyberbullying can occur via emails, instant messages, or in online comment sections, as well as through websites, online diaries, and games. The AG advises that actions which may be classified as cyberbullying in California include:

  • Direct attacks: This involves directly targeting victims through online accounts;

  • Indirect attacks and campaigns: This includes starting websites or pages on social media sites targeting a particular victim; and

  • Invasions of privacy: This involves hacking into someone else’s computer or phone, spying on him or her online via spyware and web cams, or using his or her password to access his or her messages.

In terms of cyberbullying among young people, StopBullying.gov lists a host of California Department of Education regulations designed to address the situation and punish offenders. For adults, cyberbullying could result in criminal charges and could make you liable for damages through a civil lawsuit.

Adult Penalties for Cyber Bullying

Under Section 653.2 of the California Penal Code, intimidating and harassing others via electronic means and causing them to fear for their safety is a misdemeanor crime. Depending on the circumstances, you could be facing fines of $1,000 and up to a one year sentence in the county jail. If the victim is a person in a protected class, then cyberbullying could rise to the level of a hate crime, involving additional penalties. This includes situations in which your comments or actions are based on the person's gender, race, age, religion, or disability.

In addition to criminal penalties you may be facing for cyberbullying, you could also be sued by the victim in a civil lawsuit. Libel or defamation laws often apply to these cases, specifically where your actions resulted in harm to a person’s reputation or business. Damages you may be liable to pay include medical or therapy expenses and lost wages or earnings, along with compensation for the pain and mental anguish they endured.

Contact Us Today for Help

When facing charges of cyberbullying, our dedicated San Jose criminal defense attorneys act as a strong legal advocate on your side to protect you against the serious ramifications that can result. Call or contact Jachimowicz Law Group online and request a consultation to discuss how we can help you today.

Sources:

https://oag.ca.gov/cybersafety/children/cyberbullying

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=653.2

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