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A new law takes effect in Michigan this week that takes aim at cyberbullying, including hefty fines and jail time for violators convicted of online harassment.
Per the new law, it is illegal to cyberbully another person and someone found guilty of the misdemeanor could face a maximum of 93 days in jail, a max fine of $500 or both. But if a violator has a prior conviction, they could face up to a year in jail, and/or a max $1,000 fine.
Someone who violates the new law and displays “a continued pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior” that causes serious injury to the victim could face a felony that carries a maximum 5-year sentence and/or a $5,000 fine.
A violator whose continued online harassment causes the death of a victim can be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in jail for the felony and/or a $10,000 fine.
In anticipation, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office took to Facebook with a video encouraging parents to remind their children about staying safe and being responsible online.
The new law, also known as enrolled House Bill No. 5017 was approved by former Gov. Rick Snyder on Dec. 24, 2018. It is set to go effect Wednesday.
Under the new law, cyberbullying involves:
- Posting a message or statement in a public media forum about any other person that is intended to put someone in fear of bodily harm or death and expresses an intent to commit violence against the person.
- Posting a message or statement with the intent to communicate a threat with the knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat.
- A pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior.