Is Cyberbullying a Criminal Offense in Texas?

Harrell & Paulson

Bullying in any way, shape, or form is unacceptable. But the state of Texas especially takes acts of cyberbullying seriously. Follow along to find out whether cyberbullying is considered a criminal offense and how a proficient Kaufman County, Texas criminal defense lawyer at Harrell & Paulson, LLP can help you fight against these potential charges.

What Is Considered an Act of Cyberbullying?

By definition, cyberbullying is a single significant harmful act or a pattern of harmful actions by one individual against another through the use of technology, such as social network sites, text messaging, or otherwise.

Specific to the state of Texas, for such harmful action(s) to be considered cyberbullying, there must be an imbalance of power present. For example, an older student may make a younger student a victim of cyberbullying. But it may also exist due to a difference in physical strength, popularity, social media following, or otherwise.

With that being said, more specific examples of cyberbullying are as follows:

  • One student posts about another student on a social media platform to harass, annoy, alarm, embarrass, or offend them.

  • One student repeatedly messages another student to cause emotional distress, abuse, or torment.

  • One student posts or repeatedly messages another student with a threat to physically harm them.

  • One student posts or repeatedly messages another student with a threat to vandalize their personal property.

Is Cyberbullying Considered a Criminal Offense in The State of Texas?

The state of Texas has laws in place to protect minors, those younger than the age of 16, from cyberbullying. So if your child has been made a victim of cyberbullying, you may seek a court order against the alleged cyberbully and their parents or legal guardians. More specifically, you may file a Sworn Application and Petition to Stop Cyberbullying on your child’s behalf. With a successful argument that cyberbullying indeed took place, the judge of a Texas juvenile court may issue a temporary restraining order. Or, they may issue an injunction that orders the alleged cyberbully to seize such behavior and for the parents or legal guardians to take reasonable actions to stop such behavior.

While the minor may not receive a criminal conviction, they may be faced with the following consequences:

  • Mandatory counseling sessions.

  • Mandatory community service.

  • A mandatory work program.

  • A mandatory educational program.

  • A juvenile facility sentence.

Though, if the alleged cyberbully is an adult, at 16 years of age or older, they may be tried in a criminal court. And they may be charged with a class B misdemeanor or a class A misdemeanor, which may come with jail time of 180 days or one year and a fine of $2,000 or $4,000, respectively.

Regardless, it should go without saying that you must consult with a talented Kaufman County, Texas criminal defense lawyer immediately. Give us a call whenever you can.