Is cyberbullying a crime in New York?

In today’s society, technology has become a critical component of our daily lives as we utilize electronic devices to communicate with each other. Unfortunately, not everyone uses electronic communications for the right reasons. Individuals can use electronic communications to bully, harass, embarrass, stalk, or otherwise target other people. This is typically conducted by sending messages to threaten and intimidate them with the intent to cause them physical and mental harm. This is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can have long-lasting emotional effects that negatively impact an individual’s life which is why many people wonder whether it is considered a crime. Keep reading to learn whether cyberbullying is considered a crime in New York and discover how a competent Rockland County Criminal Defense Attorney can help you explore all possible defenses to protect your rights.

When is cyberbullying considered a crime in New York?

Although there are no specific criminal statutes devoted to cyberbullying in New York, you can still be prosecuted depending on the circumstances of the crime. Essentially, you can face criminal charges if you are guilty of cyberbullying that falls into harassment or stalking. You can face criminal harassment charges if you repeatedly and intentionally annoy or alarm a victim, giving them a reason to fear for their safety. Cyberbullying can also be charged as stalking if you repeatedly and deliberately cause another person to fear mental or physical harm. Therefore, you can face penalties that range from a violation to a felony conviction depending on the severity of your crime and whether aggravating factors are present.

Acts of cyber-harassment start as violations. If your crime did not place the victim in fear of harm, your offense is punishable by a $250 fine and up to 15 days in jail. If your crime causes a victim to reasonably fear for their safety, the crime severity of the penalties will increase to harassment in the first degree which is punishable by a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail as it is a class B misdemeanor. If aggravating factors exist such as you have prior convictions, this is a subsequent offense, or this offense was a hate crime, you can be charged with aggravated harassment. Aggravated harassment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor punishable by $1,000 in fines and up to 356 days in jail. Aggravated harassment in the first degree is a class E felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to four years in jail.

Acts of cyber-stalking also start as violations. Fourth-degree stalking crimes are classified as a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail. Stalking in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor punishable by 364 days in jail. This involves putting the victim in reasonable fear for their safety or a repeat offense. Stalking in the second degree occurs when a victim is younger than 14 or you threaten to use a weapon and you are above 21 years old. This is a class E felony which can result in up to four years in prison. If you intentionally injure a victim, this is a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in jail.

Fortunately, several defenses may apply to charges of cyber-harassment and stalking such as your right to free speech. When charged with cyber-harassment or stalking, you need one of our qualified team members on your side. Contact us today so our firm can represent your interests today to prevent harsh penalties.