Email, text messaging, and social media provide a variety of platforms for us to stay in touch with old friends and make new friends. However, for all the benefits the internet boasts- keeping friends and family connected no matter how far away they are- it has also opened up all types of conversations we never could have even imagined a few decades ago.
Discussions about online ethics and cyber-crimes are now a common topic. After a year of such discussion, the Colorado legislature has determined that cyberbullying in Colorado is now a misdemeanor, with cyberbullying being defined as using the internet to harass others through the transmission of threatening or disparaging messages.
The Colorado law was named for the teenager who attempted suicide after her peers relentlessly cyberbullied her. The young woman for whom “Kiana Arellano’s Law” is named, was left a paraplegic and unable to speak as a result of the attempt to take her own life. During the legislative session, Kiana’s mother spoke in support of the bill, testifying to the emotional trauma her daughter endured while being bullied.
The legislation broadened the scope of the existing definition of harassment to include “direct or indirect” communication with another individual in a manner intended to harass or threaten bodily harm or property damage to the other person, or anything that is obscene. “Obscene” is defined as any description of sexual acts or solicitation to join in sexual acts that is found to be “patently offensive.” It is a crime to use any of the following for those purposes:
· Data network
· Instant message
· Text message
· Computer network or system
Using any of these methods to harass another individual is now a misdemeanor crime in Colorado. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-9-111.) Those persons convicted of harassment could be sentenced to not more than one year in county jail, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-505.)
Public schools must also adopt policies to prevent bullying that prescribe the discipline to be imposed on students who engage in bullying or retaliate against a student who reports suspected bullying. As used in public school anti-bullying laws, “bullying” is defined as any “written or verbal expression, or physical or electronic act” intended to cause physical, mental, or emotional harm to another student.
Anyone who has been formally accused of harassment may want to speak with a lawyer experienced in criminal defense or education law. Charges do not necessarily have to result in a conviction. However, as with a conviction for any other crime, a conviction for cyberbullying can have far-reaching implications for the accused.
Contact Our Boulder Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been arrested and accused of a crime in Boulder, such as cyberbullying, you need an experienced and aggressive Boulder criminal defense attorney in your corner from the very start. We can build a solid defense against these serious crimes. Contact the Boulder criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303) 422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.