On December 27, 2018, Governor Snyder signed Public Act 457 into law to prohibit cyberbullying in the State of Michigan. Effective March 27, 2019, cyberbullying is now a crime under Michigan law.
According to this newly enacted law, one instance of cyberbullying subjects a bully to misdemeanor charges, punishable by imprisonment for up to 93 days and/or a fine of no more than $500.00. Having more than one violation will subject the bully to imprisonment for up to 1 year or $1,000, or both.
Additionally, a person who continuously bullies an individual, creating a pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior, and that behavior is the cause of serious injury to the victim, is subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment of 5 years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
However, if a bully violates the statute in a continued pattern or harassment or intimidating behavior that leads to the death of the victim, the bully is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
These patterns of offenses require a showing of two or more instances of noncontinuous acts which amount to harassing or intimidating behavior. According to the law, a “cyberbully” is a person who posts a message or statement in a public media forum about any other person if both the following apply:
- It was posted with the intent to place a person in fear of bodily harm or death and it expresses an intent to commit violence against them,
- The message or statement is posted with intent to communicate a threat and it is known that the message will be viewed as a threat.
A special thank you to law clerk, Kathryn Kaleth for contributing to this article.