Many people believe they can say whatever they want about another person on social media. While freedom of speech is a right, harassing another person using electronic communication is a crime in Florida. If you’ve been a victim of harassment, you probably want justice. Since social media bullying is a crime, convicted people can be sentenced to jail time. However, you may also be wondering if you can sue for damages. We’ll answer all your questions in this article but first, let’s get to understand social media bullying.
Unlike many other states, Florida has defined cyberbullying in its laws. It is described as “bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication.” This includes posts on websites and blogs, instant messages, emails and other forms of internet communication. Cyberbullying can take many forms including:
- Harassment – sending malicious and offensive messages repeatedly.
- Fraping – logging on to someone else’s social media account and pretending to be them
- Trolling – putting down the victim on social media sites and online forums and trying to get a response from them.
- Outing – Sharing someone’s personal information as well as videos and images online without their permission.
- Masquerading – Creating a false identity to send the victim demeaning messages.
Claiming Damages for Social Media Bullying
The above situations may not always be considered crimes and you may want to bring a civil case against the social media bully. The problem here is that it can be very difficult to quantify the damages caused by social media bullying. There are no injuries or no property damage to assess. However, you may be able to sue for defamation or severe emotional distress. There are many vagaries involved since each case is different and social media bullying is still considered quite a new phenomenon.
If you believe you or your child has been a victim of social media bullying, the best thing to do is to get seek out a social media lawyer in Fort Walton Beach. He will be able to tell you whether a crime has been committed or whether taking civil action is the right way to go. If the matter is serious, it is likely that you may be dealing with a criminal case.
In fact, some forms of social media bullying can be considered a felony crime in Fort Walton Beach. For example, stalking is a felony and Florida’s stalking law covers cyberstalking. Willfully, maliciously and repeatedly harassing or cyberstalking an individual is a misdemeanor. However, if the perpetrator makes a credible threat towards the victim, it becomes a felony crime. Personal injury lawyers in Florida see many cases of social media bullying and they know how to represent you whether you’ve been the victim of a felony or misdemeanor.
Definitions Surrounding Social Media Bullying
It may be useful to pause here and define some of the terms we have used so far. “Harassing” refers to conduct directed at a specific person which serves no legitimate purpose and causes the target severe emotional distress. In the case of social media bullying, this is done electronically.
A “credible threat” causes the victim to reasonably fear for their safety or that of their family members or other loved ones. Fear is “reasonable” if the person making the threat seems capable of carrying out the threat. Credible threats can be either verbal or non-verbal.
Punishment for Social Media Bullying in Fort Walton Beach, FL
The punishment for social media bullying varies depending on whether the perpetrator is found guilty of a felony or misdemeanor. The difference is usually based on the nature of the offense, whether it’s a first offense, the age of bully and whether they are a repeat offender.
If an individual is convicted of misdemeanor social media bullying, they can be hit with a prison sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $1000 or both. Felony cyberbullying brings a prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $5000 or both. If you retain a personal injury attorney in Fort Walton Beach, they will do their best to ensure the court hears exactly how you were hurt by social media bullying before the perpetrator is sentenced.
Contact a Personal Injury in Fort Walton Beach to Discuss Your Social Media Bullying Case
You don’t have to try to handle social media bullying alone. When someone is constantly electronically harassing or stalking you or your child, you are understandably uncomfortable and afraid. Don’t try to get back at the person or engage in similar behavior. That is unlikely to bring favorable results. Instead, contact a social media lawyer in Fort Walton Beach. They will advise you on how best to proceed and help you to collect the necessary evidence which would be admissible in court. They will fight for you so no longer have to live your life in fear. If you are ready to stand up to your online bully, contact a Fort Walton Beach personal injury lawyer today.