Bullying has been around for centuries, and as the times change, so do the methods used to belittle and harass others. One of the most common forms of bullying, known as cyberbullying, occurs on screen through social media, email, chatrooms, and texting. Many teens and young adults who engage in these behaviors may not know they can face criminal charges. Keep reading to learn more about what charges cyberbullying can warrant and discover how Houston criminal defense attorneys can help you navigate these circumstances.
Is Cyberbullying a Crime?
In Texas, engaging in cyberbullying can lead to a number of charges, including harassment, stalking, and impersonation.
The most common form of cyberbullying harassment, which involves repeated communication with the intent to cause alarm or embarrassment. Examples of harassment include threatening physical harm to another person, their family, or their property, repeatedly name-calling or making obscene comments, and spreading rumors online.
Cyberstalking is also common, as this involves the use of technology to harass and intimidate victims. This includes bombarding the victim with comments, repeatedly messaging them, hacking into their cameras, or using technology to blackmail them.
Finally, impersonation is another form of cyberbullying. This involves creating fake accounts acting as another person, using their name or likeness to post online with the intent to harm or defraud someone.
What Are the Penalties?
The penalties for these offenses vary from misdemeanors to felony charges. For example, harassment is a Class B misdemeanor, with up to 180 days in jail and a heft fine. However, it may be changed to a Class A misdemeanor if the accused has a prior conviction or pressured a child into committing acts of self-harm.
Cyberstalking is a third-degree felony, with the potential for two to twenty years in prison and a $10,000 fine, while creating a post impersonating another person is also a third-degree felony with the same penalties as cyberstalking. However, if you impersonate the person by revealing information, it’s a Class A misdemeanor with the potential for one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
What Should I Do if I’m Facing Criminal Charges?
If you or your child are facing criminal charges for cyberbullying, it’s essential to contact an attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options. It’s important to understand that children over 17 will be tried as an adult. However, under certain circumstances, children 16 or younger may be charged as an adult rather than a juvenile, making it all the more essential to ensure you have legal representation.
At the Gonzalez Law Group, our dedicated legal team is ready to help. We will examine the details of your case to help you navigate the complexities of this situation to fight for the best possible outcome for your circumstances. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.