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Is cyberbullying a crime in Illinois?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2021 | Juvenile Offenses

Keeping tabs on the children in your family may seem to be more challenging than ever. After all, your kids likely have access to smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming systems and other electronic devices. If your son or daughter uses one of these devices to bully someone else, he or she may face criminal charges.

According to Psychology Today, cyberbullying is becoming more pervasive. While Illinois law does not expressly outlaw cyberbullying, it does prohibit cyberstalking. Consequently, you may want to discuss the parameters of legal conduct with the children and adolescents in your home.

What is criminal cyberstalking?

In the Land of Lincoln, criminal cyberstalking involves using an electronic communications device to threaten, harass, intimidate or target another person. A single incident, however, is not likely to trigger criminal charges, as state law usually requires misbehavior on two or more occasions.

What penalties are possible for criminal cyberstalking?

Prosecutors may charge criminal cyberstalking as a Class 4 felony. Upon conviction, a person may face up to three years imprisonment, a fine of up to $25,000 or both. Prosecutors may also bring misdemeanor charges if cyberstalking causes someone to miss school or otherwise interferes with his or her right to obtain an education.

How do schools handle cyberstalking?

If your child engages in cyberstalking, he or she may also face academic consequences, as all schools in Illinois have a cyberbullying policy. Depending on the language of your child’s school’s policy, violating it may lead to suspension or even expulsion.

Just as a conviction for criminal cyberstalking may follow your child for the rest of his or her life, academic punishment may make achieving life goals more difficult. Consequently, it ultimately may be in your child’s interests to mount an aggressive defense to cyberstalking charges.