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Is Cyberstalking & Cyberbullying a Crime in Minnesota

Yes, cyberstalking and cyberbullying is a crime in Minnesota. Since both the state and federal laws identify multiple methods that apply to the state’s statue, it’s important to speak with a Woodbury Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Under Minnesota statute §609.748, Harassment, it refers to §609.749, Stalking, subdivision 2 clauses. The section goes on to state that online actions causing a victim to feel threated, intimidated, or persecuted could result in a criminal conviction.

The Bureau of Justice Cyberstalking Statistics reported that one in four persons were cyber stalked via emails (83 percent) or via text (35 percent messages. While 46 percent lived in fear of not knowing, 3 in 4 knew their offender.

Cyberbullying Research conducted a U.S. National survey of middle and high school students. The results showed that 34 percent of the students experienced some form of cyberbullying. Overall the activity increased by 15 percent in 2016 to 33.8 percent up from 18.8 percent in 2007.

Characterizing the Act of Cyberstalking

In Minnesota, the act is punishable with fines and jail time if the accused knowingly instills reasonable fear of harm to a person.

A Woodbury Criminal Defense Lawyer will review your situation and determine whether the act was directly intended or the individual overreacted (more sensitive) compared to an average person.

With the advent of technology and mobile lifestyles cyberstalking incidents have increased. Although there is no physical contact, it’s a severe invasion of online privacy.

If a person impersonates someone known to the victim, they could be guilty of a felony. Often, the accused poses as a social media friend online to conceal their identity and delivers an electronic communication (text messaging or email) threat or potential warning causing distress. The following are some of the penalties and fines:

  1. Repeat text messages or emails is a gross misdemeanor, and penalties include fines up to $3,000, one year in jail or both
  2. Felony penalties include a fine up to $10,000, as much as five years in jail or both.

Jurisdiction of Cyberbullying

Too often we think of criminal acts as an adult crime. Today, the number of adolescents has increased with the introduction of the internet. Both demographics have gained skills and knowledge to access personal photos or online information without the victim’s knowledge.

To be clear, A cyberbully has complete anonymity that can raise the levels of cruelty.

The increase in student incidents has caused Minnesota’s public and private schools to maintain a written anti-bullying policy for both electronic (cyberbullying) and non-electronic (bullying).  If you are charged under Minnesota’s state criminal statutes the best course of legal action is to contact a Woodbury Criminal Defense Lawyer such as Justin Shicks.

In some cases, the harm is more mental with life-threatening outcomes. Add the long-term impacts, and specific incidents will prompt a civil lawsuit based on non-criminal statutes.

Cyberstalking and cyberbullying are crimes under the Minnesota stalking laws. Be sure to save all electronic records, verbal threats, dates, and times.

Still unsure what to do? Talking about what happened can help because no two cases are the same. Call our office.

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