We view so much of the world from behind a screen these days that both the good and bad parts of the real world and online world have begun to mesh. This is especially true for children. Kids today are born and raised in a world that is just as much virtual as it is real, which is both a gift and a curse. Gone are the days where information, acknowledgement, and experiences are limited to reality. Instead, those things, as well as many more, can be found online. Want to ask someone out? Direct message or DM them. Need help with your calculus homework? There’s a YouTube video for that.
Those are examples of positive online interactions. However, there are also terrible things that have bled through from the real world to the online world, such as bullying, which is known as cyberbullying when it takes place online. While cyberbullying doesn’t leave the physical damage that real world bullying does, it can hurt our kids just as much, if not more. The mental and emotional damage that cyberbullying can leave behind can last for years, especially if the damage is inflicted during childhood when many of us are at our most impressionable.
Whether a child is the victim or perpetrator of cyberbullying, when what is happening comes to light, neither child’s life will ever be the same.
What Acts Are Considered Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying can come in many forms. A few of the most common examples of cyberbullying include:
- Posting hurtful videos. This can involve a cyberbully posting a video that humiliates the person they are targeting.
- Harassing a person. Harassment can come in several forms. In some instances, it can involve kids mass texting a bullying target. The messages the person receives are often mean and hurtful, and depending on the person’s cell phone plan, receiving hundreds of text messages in a short time can be costly. Another way that cyberbullies harass their targets is by reporting them on social media websites, so that the bullying victim gets suspended from sites or kicked off sites for inappropriate behavior. Online harassment can also involve sending a bullying victim negative messages on social media sites and gaming platforms.
- Impersonating someone. This can involve creating a fake social media account or hacking the social media account of a bullying victim. From there, the cyberbully may post embarrassing and inappropriate things as the bullying victim, such as sexually explicit, racist, sexist, or homophobic posts. The cyberbully may also impersonate the bullying victim while chatting with and messaging others on the social media site. This could potentially damage or ruin the victim’s relationships with friends and family members. It could also ruin the victim’s reputation and standing at school.
- Posting inappropriate pictures. This can involve the cyberbully sharing embarrassing and/or inappropriate private images of the bullying victim publicly. The pictures are often shared on a social media platform or via a mass text message or email.
Are Minors Charged as Adults or Juveniles for Cyberbullying?
In California, most juveniles (17 years old and younger) who are charged with cyberbullying are subject to the juvenile justice system as opposed to the adult court system. The harshness of the penalties juvenile offenders can face often depends on the competence of their representation and the discretion of the judge who hears their case. The good thing about the juvenile justice system is that unlike adult courts, juvenile courts focus more on rehabilitating offenders than punishing them. Typical penalties that juvenile offenders can face include counseling, curfews, treatment, community service, and juvenile detention.
What to Do If Your Child Is Charged with Cyberbullying
If your child is charged with cyberbullying in California, you do have options, but you also don’t have time to waste. You must reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A criminal defense lawyer can examine your situation, determine your options, and help you do everything possible to protect your child’s rights during the legal process.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
No matter a person’s age, a cyberbullying charge is serious. When a minor is accused of cyberbullying, if they are convicted, they could face severe consequences. Parents must act quickly to ensure their child’s rights are protected and that they receive fair treatment under the law. If it’s not properly handled, a cyberbullying conviction can impact a child’s life well into adulthood.
Our internet crimes lawyers at Appel & Morse have over 40 years of combined legal experience. We know what is at stake for juveniles accused of cyberbullying and we prioritize protecting their rights and futures above all else. As our clients’ testimonials prove, our criminal defense team has a long track record of successfully guiding clients through every step of the legal process and securing the most favorable outcome possible for their situation.
To set up a free criminal consultation with our experienced internet crimes attorneys, call us at (805) 467-6060 or reach out to us online. We have a flexible appointment schedule, which includes evenings and weekends. We offer flat fees and payment plans.