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Cyberbullying Charges in Arizona

The offense of cyberbullying falls under the category of a harassment crime in Arizona. Just as with any other harassment charge, cyberbullying could be filed as a misdemeanor or felony charge.

In Arizona, "harassment" is an offense where one person targets another with actions that can reasonably be perceived as a nuisance and threat. Cyberbullying is this threat and harassment conducted through electronic media and communication.

If someone is accused of cyberbullying, this will mean a misdemeanor charge of harassment, at the very least. Any harassment that takes place through an electronic medium will lead to a cyberbullying misdemeanor charge, just as any in-person or written harassing constitutes a misdemeanor harassment charge. As that is a rather broad definition, many actions can belong in this category.

Specific forms of misdemeanor cyberbullying include:

  • Setting up surveillance of someone without a valid reason
  • Trailing someone in public after being told to go away
  • Filing a false claim about someone to law enforcement, social services, or a credit agency
  • Threatening violence or property damage
  • Bothering or endangering others through a threat or false alarm

(This final form of cyberbullying could look like a claim on Facebook that explosives were planted at a train station, forcing the evacuation of many people, and interfering with daily commutes.)

If someone is charged with harassing or threatening someone in such ways, this could mean up to six months in jail and a fine of $2,500. This is the possible sentence for a Class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious type of misdemeanor offense.

The seriousness of the charges and possible penalties (including the devastating effect on your personal record) gets multiplied when a cyberbullying charge takes the form of a felony charge.

Cyberbullying can be charged as a felony if any of these is true:

  • The offense occurred after a restraining order was placed
  • The suspect has a domestic abuse conviction on his or her record
  • The suspect is said to have harassed the targeted individual on a prior occasion

In such cases, cyberbullying becomes an aggravated harassment charge. This could mean no less than six months in prison, and up two years in prison, plus a $150,000 fine. While this means this offense is "only" a class 6 felony, any felony can mean this massive fine, and any felony conviction can absolutely ruin your record, and that penalty lasts a lifetime. Any job interview you walk into, any housing application you submit, that felony conviction will stand out. That record on its own could be enough to severely weaken and restrict your future.

Whatever type of harassment charge you face, you need powerful defense to guard your future and your freedom. Do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Joshua S. Davidson, PLC, to learn how an experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer can fight for you!