NJ’s Harassment Rules Changed by Proposed Cyber-Bullying Law

Classmates, co-workers or anyone else who may occasionally feel extra courageous when making threats and or inappropriate comments behind a computer screen, should take note of New Jersey’s proposed cyber harassment law. After clearing the New Jersey Senate Committee, the law will be considered by the state’s legislature in the coming months.

Currently, New Jersey’s harassment related laws hold people accountable for each other over the phone and in person, but not via the Internet. Many parents seek legal action when they learn their teens have been bullied and harassed through social media. However, they are dismayed when they learn there are no current laws on the books preventing cyber-harassment.

Awareness about the problem of cyber harassment has been on the rise in recent years, but the number of social media outlets where bullying can and does take place are increasing even faster.

According to a study conducted earlier this year by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV, 49 percent of teenagers and young adults, aged 14-24, have had at least a brush with some form of electronic harassment at some point in their lives. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) found that 43 percent of all U.S. teens had been a victim of cyber-bullying within the last year.

The law, which would launch New Jersey’s harassment protection into the 21st century, is aimed at protecting minors, who are the most common victims of cyber-bullying and harassing. However, there is a belief that adults who may receive threatening messages through e-mail or through other virtual means could also benefit.

Making cyber-bullying and cyber-harassment a crime punishable by severe penalties may curtail the behavior. Under the current proposal, cyber harassers could receive a fine of up to $10,000, and/or a sentence of up to 18 months in jail. Lawmakers are currently in the process of determining what exactly constitutes harassing or threatening behavior online.

If you’ve been accused of any sort of harassment, you need the services of an experienced defense attorney. Contact the NJ criminal defense attorneys at Goldstein Law Group. Call (732) 967-6777 to set up a free consultation and discuss your case.

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