Posted by: Wiley Lavender on Friday, December 13, 2019
Cyber-harassment is real! Part of life in the 21st century involves many people, companies and government entities having an online communications presence. Therefore, being face-to-face with another person is becoming less and less necessary. Now, people have significant communication with one another without even having to hear each other’s voices.
Using everything from laptop computers to smartphone apps, people can share their ideas and opinions regarding any subject 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Numerous social networks, interactive websites, and electronic telecommunication devices make it possible for individuals to “talk”, “chat”, “meet”, and “stream” with other people online. However, the kind of online communication people make, and what the intention is can have civil liability issues. In New Jersey, there is also the potential of criminal liability.
New Jersey Law
Under New Jersey law the crime of cyber-harassment is committed when a person, with the purpose of harassing another person, makes a communication in an online capacity, via any electronic device or through a social networking site, that threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person; or, knowingly sends, posts, comments, requests, suggests, or proposes any lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person or place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm to his person; or threatens to commit any crime against the person or the person's property.
Cyber-harassment is a crime of the fourth degree. Thus, in New Jersey, fourth degree crimes can result in a jail sentence up to 18 months. Adults who engage in cyber-harassment, impersonating a minor for the purpose of cyber-harassing a minor, commit a third-degree crime. A crime of the third degree can result in prison sentence between three and five years.