This Morning: Lawyers weigh in on new cyber bullying law in Michigan

News

There’s a new cyber bullying law in effect here in Michigan carrying hefty fines and jail time for violators.

The new law makes it illegal to bully anyone through an electric device, particularly over social media.

According to House Bill No. 5017:

“Cyberbully” includes posting a message or statement in a public media forum about any other person if both of the following apply:

  • The 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.
  • The message or statement is posted with the intent to communicate a threat or with knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat.
  • “Pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior” means a series of 2 or more separate noncontinuous acts of harassing or intimidating behavior.
  • “Public media forum” means the internet or any other medium designed or intended to be used to convey information to other individuals, regardless of whether a membership or password is required to view the information.

Lawyers we spoke to believe the new law may prevent some cyber bullying, however says it will be challenging to prosecute these kinds of cases.

Also that the law does a good job criminalizing online threats, however falling short in some aspects.

Senator Peter Lucido, who introduced the bill, said the reason it was written in this way was to not violate 1st amendment rights and instead criminalize the most serious of cases.

According to the law:

If found guilty, a bully could face a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

A bully with a prior conviction, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both.

A person found guilty in a manner that involves a continued pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior and by that violation causes serious injury to the victim could face a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.

As used in this subsection, “serious injury” means permanent, serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health, or serious impairment of a bodily function of a person.

A person who uses a continued pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior and by that violation causes the death of the victim is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both.

Click here for warning signs and prevention tips regarding cyber bullying.

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