With the explosion of the current social media culture comes a form of bullying in a league all its own. Cyberbullying has become a significant problem among today’s youth. In 2017 in Florida alone, there have been several teen deaths by suicide due to constant cyberbullying from peers. This type of bullying can take place in the form of social media posts, text messages, or even unwanted photographs and videos taken without permission. Because of these methods, often times the parents of a youth are unaware the bullying is even taking place until it is too late.
Florida statute 1006.147 of the K-20 education code prohibits bullying and harassment, and includes a specific paragraph addressing cyberbullying. It is defined as “bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication.” Further, it explicitly addresses the psychological distress of a victim of cyberbullying.
In Florida, if cyberbullying takes place without the threat of harm, then it is considered a misdemeanor charge and is prosecuted under the law of “cyberstalking.” However, if a cyberbully does make a credible threat of harm to his or her victim, the charge then becomes a felony and that person can face up to five years in prison, and/or a fine up to $5,000, or both.
Speaking with an attorney who is experienced in these types of matters can help in crafting an effective defense to a cyberbullying claim, and quickly preserving evidence before it can be deleted. Quick action is of utmost importance in defending any charge involving an internet crime.