Cyberbullying Laws in Michigan
Cyberbullying causes harm to victims and occurs within social media platforms and other online spaces. Cyberbullying laws in Michigan can help victims and their families seek justice and accountability. If your child or teen has been harmed by cyberbullying on platforms such as Meta, Snapchat, TikTok, or Discord, get support from a social media lawyer. The Social Media Victims Law Center can help you understand cyberbullying and protect your child’s rights.
The digital era has brought about many technological advancements but has also enabled cyberbullying and cyberstalking. These forms of online harassment are a huge concern for children, teens, and parents.
Over time, cyberbullying can cause severe emotional distress, often leading to long-lasting effects on victims, such as self-harm and addiction to harmful substances. States, including Michigan, have implemented laws to address cyberbullying and cyberstalking offenses to combat this issue. These laws mandate significant consequences for those found guilty of this behavior.
If you or a loved one are a victim of cyberbullying on social media platforms, the Social Media Victims Law Center can help. Our attorneys are well-versed in Michigan law and can work to secure justice for you.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying occurs when a perpetrator uses electronic communication to intentionally and repeatedly threaten, intimidate, or harm another person. Perpetrators use the internet, including social media platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, and Discord. Examples of cyberbullying include sending offensive messages, spreading rumors, sharing explicit content without consent, or humiliating or otherwise demeaning someone in social media comments.
What Is Cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking is a type of cyberbullying that occurs when a perpetrator uses electronic means to cause the victim to fear for their safety or the safety of others. For example, a cyberbully may repeatedly send threatening messages, monitor someone’s location without consent, or engage in persistent online harassment. The perpetrator typically acts out of a desire for control or revenge.
Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking Laws in Michigan
The Michigan Penal Code includes provisions that criminalize cyberbullying. Under section 750.411x, cyberbullying is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 93 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. However, more serious consequences can be imposed for additional instances of or a continued pattern of cyberbullying.
For example, someone convicted of cyberbullying a subsequent time can face up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. If ongoing harassment or serious harm to the victim has occurred, charges will also be more severe.
Section 750.411x defines cyberbullying as posting a message about another person in a public media forum, and both of the following apply:
- The poster intended “to place a person in fear of bodily harm or death and expresses an intent to commit violence against the person.”
- The poster intended “to communicate a threat or with knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat.”
Additionally, Michigan has enacted the Matt Epling Safe School Law, named after a Michigan teenager who tragically took his own life after being a victim of bullying. This law requires schools to adopt anti-cyberbullying policies. Schools must also take appropriate disciplinary action against students who engage in cyberbullying.
There are also laws against cyberstalking. According to MCL 750.145d(1)(b), a person is prohibited from using a computer, program, network, system, or the internet to communicate with someone else to commit, attempt to commit, conspire to commit, or solicit another person to commit stalking. Additionally, MCL section 750.411s makes it a felony to use digital communications as a tool of harassment, including cyberstalking.
Someone convicted of cyberstalking in Michigan faces severe penalties, including one year in prison for a misdemeanor and five years for a felony.
Consequences for Teens Who Cyberbully in Michigan
Michigan takes cyberbullying seriously and holds teenagers accountable for their actions. While the specific consequences of cyberbullying vary depending on the circumstances of each case, teens need to understand the potential legal ramifications of engaging in such behavior.
Criminal Charges and Penalties
Under Michigan law, cyberbullying is considered a misdemeanor. Those who engage in cyberbullying may face criminal charges, resulting in penalties such as jail time, fines, or both. These consequences help deter and punish individuals who inflict harm through online harassment.
School Disciplinary Measures
According to the Matt Epling Safe School Law, Michigan schools must implement procedures for reporting and investigating acts of cyberbullying. When a teen is found guilty of cyberbullying, disciplinary action schools may take include suspension, expulsion, or mandatory counseling.
Educational and Rehabilitation Programs
Michigan recognizes the importance of preventative and restorative measures to support teen victims of cyberbullying. Instead of solely focusing on punitive measures, the state also emphasizes prevention and intervention. Anti-bullying laws encourage school districts to enact bullying prevention, identification, and reporting initiatives to address cyberbullying as soon as possible. Examples include educational programs, student task forces, and anti-bullying student groups.
Compensation for Cyberbullying
As a victim of cyberbullying, your child may be eligible to receive compensation for the damages and harm caused by the offender. Compensation can vary depending on the circumstances and may include reimbursement for medical expenses, therapy costs, emotional distress, lost wages, and punitive damages.
If your teen has been victimized by cyberbullying or cyberstalking, the Social Media Victims Law Center can connect you with knowledgeable and experienced attorneys to determine your legal options. We can guide you through the legal process, gather evidence, and advocate for your child’s rights.
Contact a Social Media Lawyer About Cyberbullying in Michigan
If your child or teen has been a victim of cyberbullying or cyberstalking on Snapchat, Meta, Discord, TikTok, or another platform, it is essential to take immediate action to protect their well-being.
The Social Media Victims Law Center is dedicated to helping victims seek justice. We understand Michigan laws related to cyberbullying and cyberstalking and have filed several ongoing lawsuits against multiple social media companies whose platforms and products have enabled and facilitated such harmful behavior. We can offer valuable advice throughout the legal process, help you seek justice, and support you during this challenging time.
Our organization has been recognized for its dedication to fighting cyberbullying. This includes coverage in several publications, such as Bloomberg, for our efforts against social media companies. We seek to hold these platforms accountable when they fail to protect victims of cyberbullying and cyberstalking.
Contact our experienced social media lawyers at the Social Media Victims Law Center at (206) 741-4862 today to understand your rights and explore your legal options.
Is Cyberbullying a Crime in Michigan?
Yes, cyberbullying is considered a crime in Michigan. It is a misdemeanor offense under the Michigan Penal Code and can result in jail time, fines, or both.
What Happens if Your Teen Is Accused of Cyberbullying in Michigan?
If your teen is accused of cyberbullying in Michigan, they may face legal consequences. It is crucial to take the accusation seriously, seek legal advice, and work with the school and relevant authorities to address the situation appropriately.
Is Cyber Flashing Illegal in Michigan?
Matthew P. Bergman
Contact Us Today