January 22, 2024 | Kentucky Law
With today’s easy access to technology and connectivity, cyberbullying is all too prevalent and has been quite common in recent years. Victims may suffer significant psychological harm from this form of harassment – especially younger generations, for whom virtual communication plays such an integral part of their social lives.
People can engage in online actions without realizing when they cross over into illegal conduct, like cyberbullying, which has serious legal repercussions in Kentucky.
This makes it absolutely essential that individuals understand what constitutes cyberbullying under Kentucky law, not only to create a safer environment for everyone but also to avert potential legal trouble.
What Exactly Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying, as the name suggests, refers to using digital communication systems like email, text messages, or online social platforms to systematically harass or threaten another person. In Kentucky, cyberbullying may fall under the criminal offense of “harassing communications” under state law.
Essentially, a person commits this offense when they communicate with another person through electronic communications (including phone calls), with the intent to intimidate, harass, annoy, or alarm the other person.
Examples of Cyberbullying
The digital age has made it all too easy for acts of cyberbullying to take place. Here are some common examples:
Sending Threatening Messages
Cyberbullying often comes in the form of menacing or intimidating messages sent to an individual through various digital platforms. These platforms can include emails, texting apps, or direct messaging on social media sites.
Spreading Rumors Online
Cyberbullying often includes spreading false information about a person online, specifically aiming to damage their reputation. This could include sharing gossip on social media, for example.
Posting Hurtful or Embarrassing Photos or Videos
This involves sharing pictures or videos to mock, ridicule, embarrass, or cause emotional harm to others without their consent. This could be anything from a private photo meant for only one person being shared widely across the internet, or manipulated images/videos posted publicly.
Creating Fake Profiles or Websites
Yet another form of cyberbullying involves making fake online accounts or websites that are used to personate, ridicule, or degrade an individual.
For example, creating phony profiles on a variety of social media platforms under the intended victim’s name and using these false profiles to send harmful messages as if they were coming from that person. Or using a fake profile to post as if you were that person, saying things that will be embarrassing or harm their reputation.
In today’s interconnected world, understanding cyberbullying and its legal ramifications is vital for a safe online environment and to prevent criminal charges.
Determining When Communication Is Cyberbullying Can Be Difficult
When considering actions that constitute cyberbullying under the law, determining what falls into illegal territory can sometimes be ambiguous.
When a deliberate threat is made toward an individual’s safety or well-being through digital platforms, it is generally clear-cut and recognized as unlawful activity.
However, in situations where the language used might not be outright threatening but is still intimidating, harassing, or annoying, it’s more complicated. Your best bet is to remain respectful when using online platforms and to think very hard about what you’re going to say before you say it.
Penalties for Cyberbullying
In Kentucky, cyberbullying offenses that fall under harassing communications are classified as a Class B misdemeanor. This could lead defendants to face severe legal consequences, receiving up to 90 days in jail and having to pay fines of up to $250.
Other associated criminal acts may be charged stemming from cyberbullying incidents as well. For instance, a person could potentially face additional charges, such as terroristic threats, depending upon the specifics of the incident.
Contact a Local Criminal Defense Lawyer To Help With Your Charges
As the internet continues to play a major role in our daily lives, understanding what behaviors constitute cyberbullying is crucial.
If you find yourself accused of engaging in cyberbullying activities or you’re facing charges related to digital harassment, consult with an experienced defense attorney immediately. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer.
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Lexington
333 West Vine Street #212
Lexington, KY 40507