Can cyberbullying be a crime?
As a parent, you probably have some well-founded concerns about your children’s access to the internet. After all, there is a great deal of bad stuff online. The popularity of social media also allows your kids to connect with virtually anyone.
Cyberbullying is a major problem in the U.S. In fact, according to statistics from DoSomething.org, almost 40% of children between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced it. As you might suspect, cyberbullying can be a crime in California.
What does state law say about cyberbullying?
There is no express prohibition against cyberbullying in the California Penal Code. Nevertheless, Section 653.2 of the CPC does prevent individuals from using an electronic communication device to harass others or make them fear for their safety or the safety of their loved ones. Violating the statute is usually a misdemeanor-level offense.
What do prosecutors have to prove?
Like with other criminal offenses, prosecutors must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. Any person facing cyberbullying charges has a presumption of innocence, though. Moreover, it is generally possible for defendants to negotiate plea deals or present defenses to criminal charges.
How can you protect your kids?
If you have children who regularly use electronic devices, it is advisable to discuss cyberbullying with them. You also probably want to let them know about the potential criminal exposure they might have. Monitoring your children’s internet usage might make sense too.
Ultimately, though, if someone in your family is already facing cyberbullying charges, it is important to explore all available legal options promptly.