Although cell phones and social media have made the world more connected than ever before, they can also be used to bully and harass people. Cyberbullying has become commonplace among teenagers, whether it’s making hurtful statements or sharing embarrassing and exploitative photos and videos.
Since cyberbullying and online harassment can be significantly harmful to victims, especially when such incidents lead to suicide, many states have passed specific laws addressing teens who engage in such activity. Illinois is one of those states. In addition to state anti-bullying laws, every public and private school in Illinois must create and enforce anti-bullying policies that prohibit such in-person and online bullying.
According to Illinois law, harassing another person through electronic communications is a criminal offense. There are two types of cyberbullying crimes: interference with a child’s school attendance and cyberstalking.
Interfering a Child’s School Attendance
Interference with a child’s school attendance in Illinois includes interfering by bullying, which includes actions such as harassment or threats. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a jail sentence of less than one year and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
In Illinois, a person who uses an electronic device to harass someone else on at least two separate occasions commits the criminal offense of cyberstalking. Common examples include causing someone to fear for their life or the safety of someone else, suffer emotional distress, or even causing another person to commit a criminal act.
Cyberstalking also occurs when a person creates and maintains a website that can be accessed by one or more third parties for 24 hours or more, and the website contains harassing statements directed toward a specific individual or threats of imminent or future harm.
Cyberstalking in Illinois is a Class 4 felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to three years and/or a maximum fine of $25,000.
If you or your child has been accused of cyberbullying in Chicago, contact the Law Office of Steven Fine today at (312) 436-0638 for a free case review. Get a skilled criminal defense lawyer with more than 20 years of experience on your side!