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Harassment via the Internet can lead to criminal sanctions

The digital age has provided us with new ways of communicating with one another that decades ago may have seemed impossible. With the advent of the Internet came email, chatrooms, social media platforms, video conferencing and more. In fact, it may seem as if there are more ways to communicate with one another than ever before.

However, with this increase in technology came the rise of a new crime: cyberbullying. In fact, harassment by computer violates the law in Virginia. Under ยง18.2-152.7:1 of the Code of Virginia, if a person uses a computer or computer network to communicate something obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd or lascivious or suggests of proposes something of an obscene nature or makes a threat that he or she will do something illegal or immoral, with the intent to coerce, intimidate or harass another person, this is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor can lead to a jail term of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Cyberbullying can arise through several circumstances. Sometimes a couple in a romantic relationship take a sexually explicit photograph or video of one another, with the intention of keeping the photo or video private. However, when their relationship ends, one partner may post the photograph or video on the Internet as a means of seeking revenge on their ex. This is sometimes referred to as "revenge porn."

In the end, no matter what the circumstances, harassment via the use of a computer is against the law in Virginia. It can lead to criminal sanctions that could have a negative impact on a person's life and reputation. Those who have been accused of cyberbullying will want to ensure they understand the charges they are facing so they can develop a solid defense strategy.

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