Cyberbullying in Schools

Seattle Lawyers Helping Criminal Defendants and People Facing Protection Orders

Many people do not realize that cyberbullying in schools can have criminal consequences. Lawmakers in Washington believe that cyberbullies have the power to cause serious harm to victims, since images and text that are posted online can reach a wide audience and are permanent. There is a certain amount of anonymity online, and sometimes people may assume that they can hide behind a false social media profile or email. However, school administrators and law enforcement officers may track you down, and you can get charged with serious crimes related to cyberbullying. If you are criminally charged or if you are served with a protective order, you should contact the experienced Seattle cyberbullying lawyers at Blair and Kim.

Cyberbullying in Schools

The memory of incidents at school can fade, but when cyberbullying occurs, a record is created online and may show up when prospective employers and other professionals contact Google or otherwise search job applicants and employees. Bullying may be punished through administrative channels, as well as criminal laws and civil petitions for protective orders.

One common form of cyberbullying occurs via cell phone. If you used a telephone to intimidate or cause distress to someone else, you may face charges of telephone harassment. Under RCW 9.61.230, you can be convicted of the gross misdemeanor of telephone harassment if the prosecutor can show beyond a reasonable doubt that you made a telephone call to another person with the intent to embarrass, torment, intimidate, or harass, and you either 1) used profane, lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene language or suggested that a lewd or lascivious act be committed, 2) called anonymously or repeatedly or at an extremely inconvenient time, or 3) threatened to cause injuries to the person or property of the person who was called or a family or household member. Our cyberbullying attorneys can help Seattle residents devise a strategy to fight these charges.

You can be found guilty of a class C felony for this conduct if you have previously been convicted of a harassment crime involving the same victim, a person in the victim's family or household, or anybody named in a no-contact order, or if you harassed someone else by threatening to kill that person or another person.

Under RCW 9.61.260, you can be convicted for the gross misdemeanor of cyberstalking if you: (1) make an electronic communication to someone else (2) with the intent to intimidate, torment, harass, or embarrass someone, (3) and you use lascivious, lewd, obscene, or indecent words or images or suggest that a lewd or lascivious act be committed, repeatedly or anonymously send the communication, or threaten to hurt the person or property of the person whom you have called or their family or household members. You can be charged with a class C felony for cyberstalking if you have previously been convicted of harassing the same victim or harassing the victim's household or family member who is named in a no-contact order. It could also be charged as a felony if there is a threat to kill the person to whom the communication is sent or someone else. Felony charges can have serious consequences, so you should consult a Seattle cyberbullying attorney promptly if you are in this situation.

Sometimes cyberbullying involves a malicious and intentional act arising out of the perpetrator's perception of the victim's race, color, religion ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or handicap. When such an act causes physical injuries to someone or damage to property, or when it threatens a particular person or group of people who are in reasonable fear of harm to them or their property, it can be charged as malicious harassment under section 9A.36.080.

There may be different defenses that we can raise, depending on the criminal charges. In some situations, a free speech argument may apply. In other situation, a victim's reaction may not have been a reasonable response to the supposed threat or behavior. In some cases, there is no criminal charge filed, but the supposed victim may ask for a restraining order or protective order that could severely limit your freedom and open up the possibility of criminal charges down the road. It is important to retain an attorney when you are faced with the possibility of a civil protection order being taken out against you for cyberbullying.

Discuss Your Situation with a Cyberbullying Lawyer in the Seattle Area

If you have been accused of cyberbullying in school, or your child has been accused, you should retain a skillful and experienced attorney who understands the differences among the types of administrative, criminal, and civil actions that may result. We have a family law attorney and a criminal defense attorney who work together to develop comprehensive strategies for clients' cases. We also represent people in Kings County cities such as Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue. Call us at (206) 622-6562 or contact us via our online form.