Cyberbullying is now a crime in Michigan punishable by jail time

Cyberbullying is now a crime in Michigan punishable by jail time

[Ed. – A dangerous precedent. The term cyberbullying is open to interpretation. Who is the ultimate arbiter of whether an online message constitutes bullying?]

On Thursday, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Pete Lucido, R-Shelby Township that formally defines cyberbullying as a misdemeanor. Public Act 457 of 2018 will take effect in March.

The law states cyberbullying is a crime punishable by 93 days in jail and a $500 fine. A “pattern of repeated harassment” is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Meanwhile, cyberbullying that is found to cause a victim’s death is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

According to Lucido’s bill, “cyberbullying” is defined by “posting a message or statement in a public media forum about any other person” if both “the message or statement is intended to place a person in fear of bodily harm or death and expresses an intent to commit violence against the person” and “the message or statement is posted with the intent to communicate a threat or with knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat.”

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