Cyberbullying now a crime in Michigan

This spring, new cyberbullying laws began that could have an impact on your day-to-day life. These laws were created to reduce cyberbullying by creating harsh penalties for those who harass people online.

What you need to know:

  • If someone posts online about wanting to hurt you or tries to make you afraid that they want to hurt you, they can now get in big trouble if you tell the police and if the police find out that the person meant what they said
  • If you say on the internet that you want to hurt someone and someone tells the police about it, you could go to prison or pay a lot of money

What the law says:

The law states cyberbullying is a crime punishable by 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.

A “pattern of repeated harassment” is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Meanwhile, cyberbullying that is found to cause a victim’s death is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Cyberbullying is defined by “posting a message or statement in a public media forum about any other person” if both “the message or statement is intended to place a person in fear of bodily harm or death and expresses an intent to commit violence against the person” and “the message or statement is posted with the intent to communicate a threat or with knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat.”

A “pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior” means a series of two or more separate noncontinuous acts of harassing or intimidating behavior. And a “public media forum” refers to “the internet or any other medium designed or intended to be used to convey information to other individuals, regardless of whether a membership or password is required to view the information.”

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