New Michigan cyberbullying law takes effect March 27

A new state law that takes aim at cyberbullying goes into effect Wednesday in Michigan.

Originally signed by former Gov. Rick Snyder in December, the law makes cyberbullying a misdemeanor crime that could result in jail time and a hefty fine.

According to the new law, it is illegal to cyberbully another person and someone found guilty of the misdemeanor could face a maximum of 93 days in jail, a max fine of $500 or both. But if a violator has a priorconviction, they could face up to a year in jail, and/or a max $1,000 fine. 

If bullying leads to a death, the bully could be charged with a felony and face up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. 

The law defines cyberbullying as a pattern of harassing, intimidating or threatening behavior in a public media forum. Since 2014, ok-2-say, michigan's confidential communication system, received more than 12-hundred reports of cyberbullying.

Someone who violates the new law and displays "a continued pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior" that causes serious injury to the victim could face a felony that carries a maximum 5-year sentence and/or a $5,000 fine.

In anticipation, the Livingston County Sheriff's Office took to Facebook with a video encouraging parents to remind their children about staying safe and being responsible online.  

Under the new law, cyberbullying involves:

  • Posting a message or statement in a public media forum about any other person that is intended to put someone in fear of bodily harm or death and expresses an intent to commit violence against the person. 
  • Posting a message or statement with the intent to communicate a threat with the knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat.
  • A pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior.