Many of us are spending more time online than ever before. This is especially true of children and young adults—according to the Pew Research Center, 97 percent of teens are on the internet at least once a day, and 46 percent say they are online "almost constantly." For many of us, the internet has become an inescapable part of modern life.
In light of this, it's more important than ever to be cautious of how you conduct yourself online and be aware of the real-world implications of your words and actions. In some cases, you could face legal charges as a consequence of online actions, especially if you are messaging or commenting on posts by kids or teens. Read on to find out more about when online postings could cross the line into cyber-harassment or child abuse.
When Online Activity Crosses the Line
It's easy to get carried away online and post or send things you might later feel differently about, even to a child or teenager. However, that type of online conduct might have serious consequences for you. You could face legal penalties for your actions if you are sending demeaning or threatening messages to a teen or child online. And if you are a parent, caregiver, or similar figure for that teenager or child, it could even be considered child abuse.
New Jersey's statutes have established and defined the crime of cyber-harassment. In New Jersey, cyber-harassment occurs when someone communicates "in an online capacity via any electronic device or through a social networking site and with the purpose to harass another" and "threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person; knowingly sends, posts, comments, requests, suggests, or proposes any lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person or place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm to his person; or threatens to commit any crime against the person or the person's property." In New Jersey, cyber-harassment is considered a fourth-degree crime, carrying a penalty ranging from probation to 18 months in prison. If someone over the age of 21 pretends to be a minor in order to harass a minor, they could face additional penalties. Words and actions online can have lasting consequences in the real world.
In some cases, lewd or threatening behavior could even be considered child abuse. If a parent or caregiver sends these types of messages to their child or teen, it may cross the line into child abuse, which carries additional consequences for the adult and their family.
Get the Legal Help You Need
Many people have posted things online that they later regret. Count on Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team to defend you if you are facing accusations of cyber-harassment or child abuse because of online behavior. It is very common to get carried away when posting something online and forget that your words might have an impact on a real person. If your online actions have led to real-life legal consequences for you, contact the Lento Law Firm today or call 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team have years of experience defending people facing criminal accusations for online mistakes and misunderstandings in New Jersey. They can help you build a strong defense in a New Jersey criminal court if you are facing accusations of cyber-harassment or child abuse as a result of your behavior online.