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Understanding Ohio Cyberbullying Laws

Updated: November 17, 2021
Nicholas Gounaris
By Nicholas Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

ohio cyberbullying laws

With the rise in popularity of social media platforms, Ohio lawmakers passed statutes aimed to address the harm caused by cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying refers to bullying that occurs over the internet or other electronic communication.

If you are accused of cyberbullying in Ohio, you could face significant financial consequences.

Our criminal defense attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA can answer any questions you have about cyberbullying laws in Ohio.

Contact our office today for a free consultation.

Does Ohio Have Cyberbullying Laws?

Ohio does not have statutes specifically addressing cyberbullying. However, Ohio prosecutors can address cyberbullying under other criminal statutes.

These Ohio laws encompass cyberbullying by including language about communications sent electronically.

Telecommunications Harassment

The first charge frequently associated with cyberbullying allegations is Ohio’s telecommunications harassment statute.

This statute prohibits individuals from sending certain telecommunications, including making calls or sending messages:

  • With the intent to harass, intimidate, or abuse the recipient or anyone at the recipient’s location;
  • That describe, suggest, request, or propose that the recipient or any other person engage in sexual activity, in addition to the requirement that the recipient or a person with the recipient has requested that the sender stop contacting them;
  • That causes the recipient to believe that the sender will cause serious physical harm to a person or piece of property;
  • After the recipient or anyone at the recipient’s location has previously told the sender not to contact the recipient; and
  • That contain any false statements concerning the death, injury, illness, disfigurement, reputation, indecent conduct, or criminal conduct of the recipient with the intent to abuse, threaten, intimidate, or harass the recipient.

Ohio considers a telecommunications harassment charge a first-degree misdemeanor. First-degree misdemeanors in Ohio carry the potential of up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Prosecutors charge additional violations of the telecommunications harassment statute as fifth-degree felonies. Fifth-degree felonies in Ohio carry the potential of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Menacing by Stalking

Alternatively, prosecutors can charge those accused of cyberbullying under Ohio’s “menacing by stalking” statute.

Prosecutors file charges under this statute when an individual reportedly engaged in two or more acts that caused another person to believe that they were going to cause physical or mental harm to the other person or a member of that person’s family.

Additionally, the menacing by stalking statute prohibits individuals from using electronic methods of communication to urge others to commit violations of the statute.

Like the telecommunications harassment charge, Ohio considers a menacing by stalking charge a first-degree misdemeanor.

The maximum potential penalty includes 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, the existence of certain factors enhances or increases the seriousness of a menacing by stalking charge to a fourth-degree felony.

Those factors that enhance the potential penalties include:

  • A previous menacing by stalking conviction;
  • When the accused made a threat of physical harm to or against the alleged victim;
  • In committing the act of menacing by stalking, the accused trespassed on property where the alleged victim lived, worked, or attended school;
  • The alleged victim is under 18 years old; or
  • The accused has a history of violence toward the alleged victim.

Fourth-degree felonies in Ohio carry the potential of up to 18 months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. 

Other Laws Addressing Cyberbullying in Ohio

In addition to criminal statutes, the Ohio legislature has implemented anti-bullying statutes that require all school boards to adopt model anti-bullying policies that prohibit bullying on school property or at school-sponsored events.

The statute describes bullying as repeated acts between or among students that cause mental or physical harm. The repeated acts refer to any written, verbal, electronic, or physical act.

Additionally, the anti-bullying laws encourage Ohio school districts to form bullying prevention task forces and engage in other initiatives to eliminate bullying.

Consult with an Ohio Cyberbullying Attorney Today

In many cases, the individuals prone to cyberbullying or online harassment charges are juveniles. Juveniles facing cyberbullying allegations may feel overwhelmed and confused.

Our cyberbullying attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA can help you and your juvenile determine what strategy fits your situation.

Collectively, our team has more than 30 years of experience in the courtroom. One of our managing partners, Attorney Nicolas G. Gounaris, has experience as a prosecutor, magistrate, and acting judge, giving him a unique outlook when it comes to defending criminal cases.

Additionally, Mr. Gounaris received nominations from his peers to the Super Lawyers list for ten consecutive years, from 2012 through 2021.

Further, Mr. Gounaris has been recognized by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDA) as a “Nationally Ranked Top 10” in 2014 and 2015 and was named as a recipient of the “10 Best Client Satisfaction” Award for Criminal Law by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys in 2014 and 2015.

A criminal record can severely impact a juvenile’s future. Contact our team of criminal defense attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA as soon as possible so we can get started on our case.

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