The Rhode Island General Assembly recently passed a new bill involving cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as when the Internet, cell phone or other devices are used to send or post texts or images intended to hurt or embarrass another child and is a growing problem among minors. The new bill is designed to create a statewide approach to cyberbullying and requires all schools to draft a policy that makes cyberbullying a violation of school rules. The new law broadens the general definition of cyberbullying to include knowingly impersonating another person online. The law also allows schools to establish punishments for cyberbullying.
Rhode Island law already makes cyberbullying/cyberharassment a crime. Pursuant to R.I.G.L. 11-52-4.2:
(a) Whoever transmits any communication by computer or other electronic device to any person or causes any person to be contacted for the sole purpose of harassing that person or his or her family is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. For the purpose of this section, "harassing" means any knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, or bothers the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, or be in fear of bodily injury. "Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct."
(b) A second or subsequent conviction under subsection (a) of this section shall be deemed a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, by a fine of not more than six thousand dollars ($6,000), or both.
However, the new law is specifically targeted towards minors and creating a safe environment within the Rhode Island school system. The goal is to create a statewide policy against cyberbullying and establish measures to protect victims and establish penalties to punish the bullies.
If you or a family member have been charged with sexting, cyberbullying or other Internet related crimes, please allow attorney Robert H. Humphrey's reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process. Contact Robert H. Humphrey, Esq., at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.