The Hidden Pain of Cyberbullying in Texas
Bullying has always been a problem for young people, but now cyberbullying has become more common than ever before. With the rise of technology, cyberbullying is becoming rampant online through instant messages, text messaging apps, and social media like Facebook and Twitter, which are essential for teens’ social lives.
But what some people might not know is that cyberbullying can lead to legal trouble.
How does Cyberbullying in Texas Become a Crime?
Around 15% of teenagers go through cyberbullying in Texas, and experts believe it might lead to higher levels of anxiety and sadness in teenagers.
In 2011, the Texas Education Code first acknowledged cyberbullying, but it wasn’t considered a crime. However, in September 2017, Texas introduced David’s Law, which made cyberbullying a criminal offense. The legislation known as Senate Bill 179 is named in honor of David Molak, a Texas student who died by suicide in 2016 due to cyberbullying. David’s Law not only made cyberbullying in Texas a crime but also allowed schools to handle cyberbullying that happened outside of the classroom or school if it affected a student’s education or substantially disrupted the school’s activities.
Common Cyberbullying Tactics
Cyberbullying refers to either a single significant act or a pattern performed by one or more students against another student or the student’s property. It bears a resemblance to conventional bullying; however, it transpires within the confines of the internet. The Texas School Safety Center Bullying Checklist can help decide if something counts as cyberbullying. Some usual examples of cyberbullying include:
- Engaging in the spreading of unkind or embarrassing pictures or videos of fellow classmates.
- Harassing online with an imbalance of power and the intention to harm them through communication.
- Publishing rumors through electronic communication and/or social media platforms.
- Bomb them with intimidating, threatening, or abusive text messages.
- Publicly revealing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Sending messages encouraging self-harm.
- Creating a fake online identity to befriend someone and then betraying their trust.
Penalties for Cyberbullying in Texas
Authorities treat this offense with great seriousness. It can cause immense emotional and physical harm to victims. Additionally, it has the potential to lead to tragic outcomes, including suicide.
School Punishments: The consequences for a child involved in cyberbullying depend on the school’s rules. They might get suspended or expelled from school, and there could be other punishments, like not being allowed to take part in certain school activities.
Criminal Charges: Breaking the law with cyberbullying can lead to serious consequences, like going to jail or paying fines. Cyberbullying is considered a Class B misdemeanor, which means the punishment can be up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.
If the cyberbully has a previous conviction for cyberbullying or the victim is under 18` and the cyberbully aimed to make the victim hurt themselves, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor. In that case, the punishment can be up to a year of jail time and a maximum fine of $4,000.
Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!
In Texas, there are ways to clear your record under certain conditions. If you were found not guilty or acquitted of the cyberbullying offense, you might be eligible for expunction, which means your record will be completely cleared.
If the cyberbullying wasn’t connected to serious crimes like murder, child harm, or sex offenses, you might be eligible for an order of nondisclosure. This means the crime stays on your record, but the public won’t have access to it.
If you’re accused of cybercrime, it’s crucial to get help from a skilled criminal defense lawyer. They can give you important legal advice and support throughout the legal process.
Our Texas Criminal Defense Team will study the facts of your case, and create a strong defense plan for you. We will also explain the potential consequences you might face and work to protect your rights and future.
Dealing with the criminal justice system can be scary, but having a lawyer by your side can make it easier. They’ll help you, explain everything, and work hard to make things better by collecting proof and talking to witnesses.