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Can a Child Be Arrested for Cyberbullying?

When Online Taunts Cross the Line

Technology has changed the grade school experience. Kids are completing coursework on iPads, utilizing classroom computers to follow virtual presentations and demonstrations, and now, even using their technology as their classroom in light of COVID-19. Seemingly no aspect of the school experience is left unaffected by technology, including bullying.

Sadly, bullying is a longstanding issue worldwide. While students of the past feared coming into school and facing their bullies, students nowadays live in constant dread of a social media notification or text message that further destroys their sense of self-worth.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying consists of much of the same actions as traditional bullying, only this time taking place online. As it’s over the internet, the bullying is more emotional than physical. It typically includes sharing harmful, false, and mean media about someone.

Ohio Criminal Statutes Addressing Cyberbully Conduct

Cyberbullying can be a punishable offense. Under Ohio laws, bullies can be charged with telecommunications harassment and menacing by stalking.

If convicted of telecommunications harassment, the bully will face a first degree misdemeanor charge and:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to six months in jail

For a subsequent telecommunications harassment conviction, the individual could face:

  • Up to $2,500 in fines
  • Between six months and one year in jail

A bully convicted of menacing by stalking will receive a first degree misdemeanor. As such, it is also punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to six months in jail.

However, menacing by stalking becomes a fourth degree felony on a subsequent offense or when the victim is someone under the age of 18. This felony is punished by:

  • Up to $5,000 in fines
  • Between 6 and 18 months in jail

Social media has caused a rise in online bullying as people feel comfortable sharing hurtful media behind the cover of a screen. However, as the bullying occurs online, a permanent record of it exists. This, paired with a criminal record, could affect a child’s future.

If your child is facing criminal charges for a cyberbullying accusation, contact our attorneys immediately. We will fight tirelessly to protect your child and their future.