Is Cyberbullying a Crime in Illinois?
Yes. As stories of children and adolescents losing their lives to suicide after facing harassment and torment from their peers appear again and again in the media, many states have enacted or amended laws that specifically classify cyberbullying as a crime.
In Illinois, there are a few statutes that discuss bullying in schools, but there is no specific cyberbullying statute. Illinois schools are required to have anti-bullying policies in place and include electronic and internet-based bullying in their definitions of bullying.
If your minor son or daughter is charged with harassing or bullying another student, he or she could be facing penalties through the juvenile court system. Contact an experienced juvenile defense lawyer to defend your child’s case.
Cyberbullying is a Class 4 Felony
In Illinois, the closest legal definition to cyberbullying is cyberstalking. In its definition, it is quite similar to cyberbullying. It does not mention schools, students, or minors and can refer to any act of cyberstalking, whether committed by an adult against another adult or between minors.
Many different acts can be considered cyberstalking when committed electronically. They include:
- Soliciting others to commit criminal acts against a target;
- Causing the target to suffer emotional distress through two or more acts of threats, surveillance, or harassment;
- Committing two or more acts that cause the target to fear for his or her safety or the safety of a third party;
- Harassing the target into fearing he or she will suffer immediate bodily harm, sexual assault, or confinement or that a close loved one will suffer one or more of these effects; and
- Creating a website that solicits others to commit criminal acts against the target, makes harassing statements toward the target, threatens bodily or other harm to the target or his or her close loved ones, or makes the target fear for his or her safety or the safety of loved ones and leaving the website up for 24 hours or longer.
Interfering with a Student’s School Attendance is a Class A Misdemeanor
In Illinois, it is a Class A misdemeanor to interfere with a child’s school attendance, including interfering with it through threats or harassment. Harassment can include any type of persistent, unwelcome contact that can reasonably be considered abusive, intimidating, or threatening. Harassment can have a negative impact on the target’s physical health, mental health, and academic performance.
Work with an Experienced Naperville Juvenile Defense Lawyer
If your child is facing a legal charge, be his or her advocate by working with an experienced Naperville juvenile defense lawyer to develop a defense strategy for your child’s case. The juvenile court system focuses on rehabilitation, rather than punishment. Part of a juvenile defense lawyer’s job is to ensure that a child in the system gets the help he or she needs if necessary. To learn more about the juvenile court system and how we can help you and your child, contact Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to set up your initial consultation with us.