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Home 9 Internet Crimes 9 Cyberbullying Laws in Pennsylvania: What You Should Know

Cyberbullying Laws in Pennsylvania: What You Should Know

teen with their head in the knees, with a graphic overlay of cyberbully text messages

In this blog post, we are going to discuss cyberbullying laws in Pennsylvania, the different types of this type of internet crime, and the penalties that come with these charges.

Highlights:

  • Cyberbullying is considered a form of cyber harassment in Pennsylvania and can include cyberstalking, hacking, pretending to be someone else, and sharing private or embarrassing information without permission.
  • Depending on the severity, penalties for cyberbullying in PA range from a third-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
  • The future impacts of cyberbullying should not be overlooked. If convicted, you may face difficulties with employment or education in the future.

Imagine this: you’re a high school student in Pennsylvania. You and a classmate decided to create a parody social media account of another student, just as a harmless joke. You post exaggerated and embarrassing content about them without their knowledge or permission.

Little did you know, this student is deeply upset by these posts, feeling humiliated and targeted. Their grades start to plummet, and they even start avoiding the school grounds altogether. The situation escalates when their parents contact the school authorities, who trace the parody account back to you.

Now, you are facing charges under cyberbullying laws in PA. These charges could lead to penalties like legal consequences. Suddenly, what began as a joke could have serious, long-term effects on you and your family’s daily lives. If you find yourself in this case or a similar situation, get in touch with our cyberbullying attorney in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

What Is the Definition of Cyberbullying in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, cyberbullying is considered a form of cyber harassment according to commonwealth law. It is when you commit harassment by repeatedly bothering, annoying, or threatening to inflict harm or scare another person by electronic means. This crime could include emails, text messages, disparaging statements via social media, or any other form of digital communication through some form of online computer program.

Pennsylvania laws for cyberbullying can include cyberstalking, stealing someone’s identity, hacking, phishing emails, pretending to be someone else, and sharing private or embarrassing information without permission. This law applies to both kids and adults, showing how seriously they take this kind of behavior.

Examples of What’s Considered to Be Cyberbullying in Pennsylvania

Online harassment and internet crimes can come in many different forms. Here are a few examples of bullying online.

Posting Derogatory Comments

Posting damaging comments online about another person is considered cyberbullying. This act includes posting hurtful comments about an adult or child’s physical appearance, abilities, or personal life on social platforms or any other public internet medium.

Spreading Rumors Online

Spreading lies or rumors about another person is considered to be cyber harassment in PA. The act of spreading false and disparaging statements about someone online can severely impact the victim’s reputation and cause substantial emotional distress.

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is also considered online bullying in Pennsylvania. This crime includes unwanted, obsessive attention by you or a group towards another person. It can involve tracking, intrusive behavior, and manipulation, which causes reasonable fear in the other person.

Non-Consensual Sharing of Intimate Images

This type of cyberbullying is one of the most heinous examples. This act involves sharing explicit photos or videos without the individual’s knowledge or consent.

Please note: This crime does not apply to minors under the age of 18. These crimes are prosecuted as the possession or dissemination of child pornography, which carries severe consequences under state laws and federal law.

Doxxing

Posting someone’s personal information, such as their address, account information, financial information, or phone number, online without their consent is considered doxxing and a form of cyberbullying. This act can put the person’s mental or physical health and well-being at risk or make them a larger target for harassment.

Computer Virus Distribution

Computer hacking offenses are considered to be cyber harassment in PA. This crime is when you intentionally send a computer virus to someone’s device or computer system.

While it may seem like such an offense is not a form of cyberbullying, it is considered to be because it can cause significant harm to the person and computer systems, especially if the person is not tech-savvy.

woman looking frustrated at phone, sitting on a couch

What Are the Charges and Penalties for Cyberbullying in PA?

Juvenile First Offense

The criminal charges under cyberbullying laws in Pennsylvania can vary from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the severity of the crime. For example, if you cyberbully a child, it’s considered a third-degree misdemeanor. You could face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Suppose it is a juvenile charged with cyberbullying. In that case, there’s a chance they may have to deal with disciplinary consequences at their school, in addition to the juvenile justice system, and have to complete a diversionary program. Upon successful completion of the educational program, the juvenile’s record could be expunged.

Bullying Resulting in Physical Injury or Continuing to Commit Crimes

It’s worth noting that if you continue to cyberbully the same victim or if your actions result in severe emotional distress or physical harm, the consequences of this Pennsylvania internet crime can be more severe. Penalties can range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, with the possibility of up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

While the legal consequences are serious, the social impacts of cyberbullying shouldn’t be overlooked. If you are charged with this type of alleged bullying, you may face difficulties finding employment or pursuing education in the future.

If You Have Committed a Pennsylvania Internet Crime & Need a Defense, Call Marinaro Law

When it comes to cyberbullying laws in Pennsylvania, don’t wait until you’re in handcuffs to have a defense attorney on your side: call Marinaro Law Firm right away. Our legal team is standing by at the ready to help you in your internet crime case and make sure that you receive the fairest trial and outcome possible. When you need someone on your side to make sure that your free speech is defended, contact us today!

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