Harassment and Cyberbullying as Crimes in New York

Muslim Cyber Crime Attorney in New York

Harassment is a term used to define the act a person performs to upset, provoke, and trigger emotional distress to another person. Cyberbullying is an example of harassment and it involves using an electronic device to create an unhealthy mental environment for another person. Other types of harassment include stalking and hate crimes. Harassment is a common act in schools, especially in high schools and colleges. 43% of kids in the USA have been harassed at least once in their lives. Thus, states have formulated strict laws by which each school must abide to prevent widespread bullying and harassment. For instance, New York has anti-bullying laws and policies by which school have to adhere to. Furthermore, all schools have to implement bullying preclusion programs and districts have to report data as well as treads regarding any type of harassment to the superintendent.

                          

Intentional result

Harassment is a challenging crime to prove. However, as long as the prosecutor can prove that the defendant did or said something intending to hurt the victim, the offender will be charged. Typically, if the offender uses words that provoke a fight, annoy or intimidate the victim, the act is defined as harassment.

Cyberbullying and cyberstalking

Harassment isn't restricted to in-person communication. Instead, it is common via the internet. This type of harassment is called cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is based on but not limited to the gender of a person, weight, ethnic group, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and sexual orientation. Cyberbullying is conducted through emails or social media platforms and is, unfortunately, affecting people thus driving different states to create statutes to address the menace.

Does the law protect the special victim against hate crimes?

People holding public offices are venerable to hate crimes especially because they serve a larger group of people. Typically, anyone can attack them. Therefore, there are specific harassment laws designed to protect such people. Hate crime laws are rules designed to protect people from harassment based on their gender, race, sexual orientation and age.

When do an act or words become harassment?

Sometimes an activity has to be done repeatedly for it to become harassment. But, if the act involves physical contact, a commission that can provoke a violent reaction, threat and violence, the actions become harassment even if the act happens for the first time.

Some states don’t necessarily require the defendant to cause immediate harm for them to be charged with harassment. Instead, if the offender is likely to commit future harm to a victim, they are charged with harassment.

Penalties for harassment

Harassment is divided into several categories depending on the seriousness of the offender's act with aggravating penalties for more severe crimes. For example, if an offender harasses a victim with no intention of putting the victim in actual harm, the bully will face second-degree harassment. On the other hand, if the offender intentionally puts the victim in fear and physical injury, the crime falls into first-degree harassment. It is important to note that both degrees of this crime may be alleviated to aggravated first-degree harassment if the offender was previously convicted or there is a conviction at the time of commissioning harassment.

Another factor that would move first and second degree to aggravated first-degree harassment is when the offender commits abusive acts based on his/her perception about age, weight, gender, religion and other similar factors.

Bullying can also be charged under stalking if the offender puts the victim in physical harm or mental fear. The least stalking offense falls under the fourth degree and moves up to first degree depending on the severity of the crime.

Ideally, first-time harassment is recognized as a misdemeanor and repeated harassment becomes a felony. Therefore, if the crime is a felony, charges may include fines and jail time. Alternatively, if the harassment act was conducted in school, the bully gets suspended or is expelled from the school. Besides all the penalties, the offender may be asked to take psychological counseling and stay away from the victim either physically or online.

Civil liability and restraining order

Besides the criminal charges against harassment, the offender might be brought to civil liability. If a person feels victimized by the offender, they may seek restraining order to prevent the offender from coming anywhere close to the victim. Typically, the offender can't go near the victim whether in person on online and should maintain a specific distance between the victim and himself/herself.

Although restraining order is a civil matter, violating the terms of the order could trigger charges including felony charges.

How can an offender defend themselves from harassment conviction?

  1. Free speech

The state and federal constitution protect freedom of speech, but freedom is not absolute. Therefore, if communication jumps to criminal conduct, communication can be deemed for legitimate reasons. Therefore, if you can prove the conversation to be for legitimate reasons, then you can use it as your defense against harassment.

  1. Bluffing

Another defense an offender can use is a bluffing card. Ideally, the offender can argue they did not intend to carry through the threat. However, you must be convincing otherwise this is not a solid defense.

  1. Unintended consequences

Finally, the unintended consequence is a defense. For example, if you're listening to loud music with offensive lyrics and someone happens to hear it, then the victim can sue you. However, considering you didn’t put up loud music for the victim to listen, you can argue that you dint intend for the consequences. 

  1. Legal activities

Harassment is an annoying act without a legitimate purpose. Therefore, if you engage in an annoying act but for legitimate reasons, you're protected by the law as long as you don't commit a crime while at it. For example, if you're legal striking you may do something to annoy the targeted audience but you're protected against harassment charges.

 

Talk to an attorney

Laws regarding bullying are complicated and the meaning of each word could mean different things depending on how each court interprets it. Moreover, harassment was not a crime before 2000 and it is in the mid-20s that legislature started coming up with laws to curb harassment. Typically, these laws are untested and you need an experienced lawyer to help you navigate your case if charged. Ideally, a lawyer understands how the laws are crafted and how each can be against or for you. Therefore, ensure you hire only the best who will help you craft the best defense that can either dismiss the harassment case or reduce charges.

 

 

 

 

 

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