New Michigan law makes cyberbullying a crime

New Law Makes Cyberbullying a Crime in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. — A new law aimed at tackling cyberbullying will go into effect statewide Wednesday in Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press reported the law, known as enrolled House Bill No. 5017, was approved by former Gov. Rick Snyder in December.

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Under the law, cyberbullying includes posting a message or statement in a public forum -- any medium designed to convey information to others -- about another person if the following apply:

  • 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
  • The message or statement is posted with the intent to communicate a threat or with knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat.

If someone is found guilty of the misdemeanor, they could serve up to 93 days in jail, a maximum fine of $500 or both. Someone with a prior cyberbullying conviction could serve a maximum of one year in prison or a $1,000 fine or both.

A person with a “continued pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior and by that violation causes serious injury to the victim” can, if found guilty of the felony, serve a five-year jail term or a $5,000 fine or both. A pattern that causes death would also be a felony. If found guilty, a person could serve a maximum of 10 years in prison or pay a maximum fine of $10,000 if not both.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website StopBullying.gov, some warning signs that a child is being cyberbullied include noticeable increases or decreases in device use, emotional responses to what is happening on a device, hiding screens or devices, avoiding discussion about what is happening on their device, and lost interest in people and activities.

More information on cyberbullying is at StopBullying.gov.