As the world around us changes, so do the laws. As Louisiana and other states adapt to the changing times, their statutes may reflect the evolving world. This likely includes an increased reliance on electronic communications, and consequently, ways that such communications may be deemed to be criminal. One Louisiana law, enacted in 2010, identifies cyberbullying as a crime.
The misdemeanor crime of cyberbullying occurs when a person communicates with another person under the age of 18 via electronic methods, whether textual, visual, oral or written, with the intent to cause the recipient of the communication harm.
Specifically, to be convicted of cyberbullying, an accused must have willful and malicious intent to intimidate, torment, abuse or coerce the alleged victim. The methods through which this crime may occur are varied. From an Internet chat room, to electronic mail, to an online messaging service, there are a number of different ways an allegedly illegal communication may occur.
Under Louisiana’s statute, the crime occurs when the communication was either originally sent, originally received or originally viewed. Pursuant to the law, the communication may be viewed by any person for the crime to occur, which means that even if someone other than the original recipient received the communication, a crime may have occurred.
A conviction for cyberbullying carries a possible fine of up to $500, as well as a jail sentence of up to six months. A person under the age of 17 who has been charged and convicted of cyberbullying may face a different disposition under the terms of Louisiana’s Children’s Code.
A person who is being investigated for the criminal charge of cyberbullying, or who has been charged with such a crime, may wish to seek out legal counsel. An aggressive defense may prove advantageous such as proving innocence, suppressing evidence, reducing charges or dismissing the charges entirely.
Source: Louisiana State Legislature, “RS 14:40.7,” accessed Nov. 27, 2015