New Cyberbullying Law in Full Force

Today the Union County Prosecutor’s Office announced that they had their first successful juvenile prosecution involving New Jersey’s newly enacted cyber bullying law. The juvenile defendant, a 15 year old Hillside teenager, was sentenced to a year of probation as a result of pleading guilty to a single count of 4th degree cyber harassment.

As part of the juvenile’s probation, she will have to undergo anger management counseling, complete an anti-cyberbullying training course, perform 15 hours of community service, and submit to a curfew, among other conditions.

According to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Stacey Zyriek, who prosecuted the case, on April 2 the female defendant sent an expletive-laced Facebook message to a former classmate in which she challenged her to a fight and threatened to kill her,

An investigation involving the Hillside Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Office’s Juvenile Unit followed, resulting in the juvenile defendant being charged, Zyriek said.

The defendant, who now attends a local high school, also has been ordered not to have any contact with the victim, who is in middle school.

The state’s cyberbullying statute was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in January. The statute indicates that a fourth-degree crime has occurred if any juvenile makes “a communication in an online capacity via any electronic device or through a social networking site … with the purpose to harass another” or if a juvenile threatens a peer with violence or knowingly sends any lewd or obscene material to or about another person with the intent to inflict emotional harm.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.