Cyberbullying, or using electronic media to harass another person, is a crime in Arizona. In addition, Arizona law requires schools to develop and enforce policies to deal with student-on-student bullying and cyberbullying.
This article discusses cyberbullying laws in Arizona. For information about cyberbullying in general, see our article, Teen Cyberbullying and Harassment.
Arizona law makes it a crime for any person to harass another person and includes harassment done via electronic means (such as telephone, the Internet, social media sites, texting, email, instant messages, or other similar means).
Under Arizona law, bullying and cyberbullying are referred to as harassment and threatening or intimidating another person. Arizona law defines harassment as conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to be “seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed” and that, in fact, does have that effect on the person targeted. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-2921.)
A person commits the misdemeanor crime of harassment in Arizona by:
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-2921.)
Threatening or intimidating another person is also a misdemeanor crime in Arizona. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-1202.) A person commits this crime by using language or conduct that conveys a threat:
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-1202.) An example of the second type of threat and intimidation would occur where a person tweeted that there was a bomb threat at the local airport, causing evacuation of the facility and flight delays.
The crime of harassment is increased to the felony crime of aggravated harassment where a person engages in the conduct described above under misdemeanor harassment and:
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-2921.01.)
The penalty a person convicted of any type of bullying in Arizona depends upon the degree of offense charged.
The penalty for misdemeanor harassment is a maximum sentence of six months in jail, a fine of $2,500, or both. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 13-707, 13-802.) The penalty for misdemeanor threatening or intimidating conduct is a maximum sentence of six months, a fine of $2,500, or both. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 13-707, 13-802.)
The penalty for felony aggravated harassment is a sentence of a minimum of six months and a maximum of two years in prison, a fine of $150,000, or both. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 13-702, 13-801.) A person convicted of a second offense of aggravated harassment faces a minimum sentence of four months and a maximum sentence of one year and six months, a fine of $150,000, or both. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 13-702, 13-801.)
Arizona law requires schools to enact and enforce policies and procedures that prohibit students from harassing, intimidating, and bullying other students on school property or school buses, and at school-sponsored activities or events “through the use of electronic technology, communications, networks, forums, or mailing lists. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15-341.)
Such policies must include:
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15-341.)
If you or someone you know has experienced cyberbullying or any form of harassment, consult with a lawyer in your area who has experience in criminal and/or education law. If you or someone you know is accused of cyberbullying or a related offense, see an experienced criminal defense lawyer.