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Is Cyberbullying a Crime in California?

Cyberbullying is a serious problem that affects many people, especially young people, in today’s digital world. Cyberbullying can cause emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. That said, despite cyberbullying being wrong, you may wonder if it is actually considered a crime here in the state of California. Please continue reading and reach out to a seasoned Red Bluff criminal lawyer from Cohen Criminal Law to learn more. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the use of electronic devices or online platforms to harass, intimidate, threaten, or humiliate another person. Cyberbullying can take many forms, such as:

  • Sending mean or hateful messages, texts, emails, or comments
  • Spreading rumors or lies about someone online
  • Posting or sharing embarrassing or private photos or videos of someone without their consent
  • Creating fake profiles or websites to impersonate or mock someone
  • Excluding someone from online groups or activities
  • Encouraging others to bully someone online

Cyberbullying can happen anytime and anywhere, and it can have lasting effects on the victim’s mental health and well-being.

Is Cyberbullying a Crime in the state of California?

California does not have a specific law that directly addresses cyberbullying. However, some actions of cyberbullying may fall under other existing laws that prohibit online harassment, stalking, or threats. These laws include:

  • California Penal Code 653.2: This law makes it a misdemeanor to electronically post or transmit personal identifying information or a harassing message about another person with the intent to cause them fear for their safety or the safety of their family members.
  • California Penal Code 646.9: This law makes it a felony to willfully and maliciously harass another person by following them, making repeated contact with them, or threatening them with the intent to place them in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their family members.
  • California Penal Code 422: This law makes it a felony to willfully threaten to commit a crime that will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement is taken as a threat and causes the other person to be in sustained fear for their safety or the safety of their family members.

Can I go to jail for cyberbullying?

Depending on what specifically you are charged with, you may face the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for a misdemeanor
  • Up to five years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for a felony
  • A restraining order that prohibits any contact with the victim
  • Civil liability for damages caused by the cyberbullying

Rather obviously, if you’re facing any of these penalties, you have a lot on the line, and you need a lawyer who can effectively defend you and your rights. Contact Cohen Criminal Law today to schedule your free case evaluation with our seasoned criminal defense firm.