In late 2018, Michigan passed legislation that made criminal cyberbullying a misdemeanor if convicted of the charge. The law became effective March 27, 2019, forming MCL § 750.411x. The maximum punishment under the statute is 93-days jail and/or a fine of up to $500 plus court costs. Moreover, if there is a ‘pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior’ by the perpetrator, they could face a 5-year felony here in Michigan. The statue goes on to even identify a 10 year felony for repeated harassing acts that bring about a death of an individual. Criminal cyberbullying has picked up many headlines over the past few years. This makes the creation of this criminal statute very understandable.
It is important to note that criminal cyberbullying, if convicted, is a criminal charge and would be placed on the criminal record. This could and can influence career or education prospects for some individuals. Moreover, there are enhanced punishments and penalties if the individual has a prior conviction of cyberbullying. In the end, it is important to be careful with interactions on media forums and the internet.
The statute defines ‘cyberbullying’ as “posting a message or statement in a public media forum about any other person” where “[t]he 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 t]he message or statement is posted with the intent to communicate a threat or with knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat.” Moreover, in order to reach the level of a ‘pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior’ an individual must be engaged in a “series of 2 or more separate noncontinuous acts of harassing or intimidating behavior.”
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