Can a juvenile be charged for cyberbullying?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

In New Jersey, cyberbullying has serious consequences, especially for juveniles. Cyberbullying involves any online harassment meant to physically or emotionally harm another individual. This typically includes sending harmful or threatening messages. It can also involve spreading rumors online or sharing private information without consent. If you have young children in your life, it is important to understand if they can face consequences for cyberbullying. 

Juvenile justice system

Cases involving juvenile cyberbullying are usually handled within the juvenile justice system. This system aims to rehabilitate rather than punish young offenders. However, this does not mean that consequences are lenient. Under New Jersey law, such actions are a crime of the fourth-degree and can lead to juvenile detention. 

Potential consequences

The juvenile court weighs each situation differently. They consider age, the severity of the offense, and prior records when sentencing. As such, there are several potential consequences juveniles may face if charged:

  • Probation: The court may place juveniles under probation supervision. In these situations, juveniles must adhere to specific conditions set by the court.
  • Community service: Courts may require juveniles to complete community service hours. This allows them to make amends for their actions.
  • Counseling: Judges may mandate counseling or anti-bullying, educational programs for juveniles. This is a form of alternative sentencing geared toward rehabilitation.
  • Juvenile detention: In severe cases, judges may sentence juveniles to juvenile detention.

Importance of early intervention

Although the juvenile justice system focuses on rehabilitation, cyberbullying is still serious. A cyberbullying charge can have long-term effects on a juvenile’s life. A record of such behavior can impact future educational and employment opportunities. It is crucial for parents and guardians to understand the severity of these charges. This way, they can address and prevent cyberbullying behavior before it impacts others.

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