Cyberbullying in North Carolina

by | Apr 8, 2020 | Blog Posts, NC Criminal Defense | 0 comments

In North Carolina, cyberbullying is a cyber-crime that generally involves committing certain acts against a minor through the use of a computer or the Internet. Cyberbullying is governed by NCGS 14 – 458.1 and is generally a Class 1 misdemeanor. This crime covers a broad array of activities against the minor victim, which will be discussed in this blog.

Like all of our blogs, this blog is intended for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense lawyer.

A person guilty of cyberbullying

  1. uses a
    1. computer or
    2. computer network
  2. intent
    1. with the intent to intimidate or torment a minor to
      1. build a fake profile or website,
      2. pose as a minor in an Internet chat room or email or instant message,
  • follow a minor online or into an Internet chat room, or
  1. post or encourage others to post on the Internet private, personal, or sexual information pertaining to a minor,
  1. with the intent to intimidate or torment a minor or the minor’s parents or guardian to
    1. post a real or doctored image of a minor on the Internet,
    2. access, alter, or erase any computer network, computer data, computer program, or computer software, including breaking into a password protected account or stealing or otherwise accessing passwords, or
  • use a computer system for repeated, continuing, or sustained electronic communications to a minor,
  1. to plant any statement, whether true or false, tending to provoke or that actually provokes any third party to stalk or harass a minor,
  2. to copy and disseminate, or cause to be made, an unauthorized copy of any data pertaining to a minor for the purpose of intimidating or tormenting that minor
  3. to sign up a minor for a pornographic Internet site, or
  4. signing the minor up to mailing lists or to receive junk main, resulting in intimidation or torment of the minor and done without authorization of the minor or minor’s parents

Definitions

  • Data
    • A representation of information, facts, knowledge, concepts, or instructions prepared in a formalized or other manner and intended for use in a computer, computer system, or computer network
  • Harassment (as defined in the stalking statute)
    • Knowing conduct directed at a specific person that torments, terrorizes, or terrifies that person and serves no legitimate purpose

Punishment

If the defendant is 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense, this crime is punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum possible penalty of 120 days in jail.

Technically, this crime is Class 2 misdemeanor if the defendant is under 18 years of age, however, with Raise the Age having finally taken effect in North Carolina, this statutory provision now has limited relevance.

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