Criminal Statutes

OverviewState Statutes

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Last update: December 20, 2010

Overview

Many states have enacted “cyberstalking” or “cyberharassment” laws or have laws that explicitly include electronic forms of communication within more traditional stalking or harassment laws. In addition, recent concerns about protecting minors from online bullying or harassment have led states to enact “cyberbullying” laws.  This chart identifies only state laws that include specific references to electronic communication.  However, other state laws may still apply to those who harass, threaten or bully others online, although specific language may make the laws easier to enforce.  This chart classifies the various state laws addressing these three different types of online behaviors, as described below.

Cyberstalking. Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet, email or other electronic communications to stalk, and generally refers to a pattern of threatening or malicious behaviors. Cyberstalking can be considered to be the most dangerous of the three types of Internet harassment, based on a posing credible threat of harm. Sanctions range from misdemeanors to felonies.

Cyberharassment. Cyberharassment differs from cyberstalking in that it is generally defined as not involving a credible threat. Cyberharassment usually pertains to threatening or harassing email messages, instant messages, or to blog entries or websites dedicated solely to tormenting an individual. Some states approach cyberharrassment by including language addressing electronic communications in general harassment statutes, while others have created stand-alone cyberharassment statutes.

Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying and cyberharassment are sometimes used interchangeably, but for the purposes of this chart, cyberbullying is used to mean electronic harassment or bullying between minors within the school context. Recent cyberbullying legislation reflects a trend toward school districts as the policy enforcers of such misconduct. As a result, statutes establish the infrastructure for schools to handle this issue by amending existing school anti-bullying policies to include cyberbullying or electronic harassment among school age children. The majority of these state laws effectuate sanctions for all forms of cyberbullying on school property, school busses and official school functions. However, some have also extended sanctions to include cyberbullying activities that originate off-campus, understanding that activities off-campus can have a chilling and disruptive effect on children’s learning environment. The sanctions for cyberbullying range from school/parent interventions to misdemeanors and felonies with detention, suspension, and expulsion in between. Some of these laws provide for Internet safety education or curricula that covers cyberbullying.

See also: Additional NCSL cyberbullying resources, state laws related to electronic solicitation or luring of childrenInternet filtering laws–schools and libraries, and NCSL LegisBrief: Protecting Children Online.

State/Territory

Cyberstalking

Cyberharassment

Cyberbullying

Alabama Ala. Code § 13A-11-8 Ala. Code § 16-28B-3(2)
Alaska Alaska Stat. §§ 11.41.260, 11.41.270
Arizona Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-2921 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 

8-309

Arkansas Ark. Code § 5-41-108 Ark. Code § 5-41-108 Ark. Code § 6-18-514
California Cal. Civil Code § 1708.7, Cal Penal Code § 646.9 Cal. Penal Code §§ 422,  653.2,  653m Cal. Ed. Code §§ 32261322653227048900
Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-60218-9-111 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-9-111 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-32-109.1 (2)(a)(X)
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-182b53a-183
Delaware Del. Code tit. 11 § 1311 Del. Code tit. 14 § 4112D
Florida Fla. Stat. § 784.048 Fla. Stat. § 784.048 Fla. Stat. § 1006.147
Georgia Georgia Code § 16-5-90 Georgia Code § 20-2-751.4
Hawaii Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 711-1106
Idaho Idaho Stat. §§ 18-790518-7906 Idaho Stat. § 18-917A
Illinois 720 ILCS §§ 5/12-7.5, 740 ILCS 21/10 720 ILCS §§ 135/1-2135/1-3135/2 105 ILCS §§ 5/27-13.35/27-23.9
Indiana Ind. Code § 35-45-2-2
Iowa Iowa Code § 708.7 Iowa Code § 208.28
Kansas Kan. Stat. § 21-3438 Kan. Stat. § 72-8256
Kentucky Ky. Rev. Stat. § 525.080(1)(c)
Louisiana La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:40.214:40.3 La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:40.214:40.7, Children’s Code Art. 730(11)
Maine Me. Rev. Stat. tit 17A § 210A (see 2007 Me. Laws, Ch. 685, sec. 3)
Maryland Md. Code tit. 3 § 3-805 Md. Code, Ed. Law § 7-4247-424.1
Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265 § 43 Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265 § 43A Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71 § 370
Michigan Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 750.411h750.411i Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.411s
Minnesota Minn. Stat. § 609.749 Minn. Stat. § 609.795 Minn. Stat. § 121A.0695
Mississippi Miss. Code §§ 97-45-1597-45-1797-3-107 Miss. Code § 97-29-45 Miss. Code §§ 37-11-6737-11-69
Missouri Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.225 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.090 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 160.775
Montana Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-220 Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-213
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-2,137
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.575 Nev. Rev. Stat. § 392.915
New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. § 644:4 N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 193-F:2 et seq.
New Jersey N.J. Stat. § 2C:12-10, 2C:12-10.1 * N.J. Stat. §§ 18A:37-1418A:37-15.1
New Mexico
N.M. Stat. § 30-3A-3 *
New York New York Penal Law § 240.30 New York Education Law § 814
North Carolina N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-196.3 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-196(b) N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-458.1115C-407.15-17
North Dakota N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-17-07
Ohio Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.211 Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2917.21(A),2913.01(Y)
Oklahoma Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1173 Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1172 Okla. Stat. tit. 70 § 24-100.4
Oregon Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 163.730 to 163.732 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.065 Or. Rev. Stat. § 339.351 et seq.
Pennsylvania Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. § 18 2709.1 Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 18 § 2709(a), 2709(f) 24 P.S. § 13-1303.1-A
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-52-4.2 R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-52-4.2 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-21-26
South Carolina S.C. Code §§ 16-3-1700(C), 16-3-1700(F) S.C. Code §§ 16-3-1700(B), 16-3-1700(C)16-17-430 S.C. Code §§ 59-63-110 to 59-63-150
South Dakota S.D. Cod. Laws § 22-19A-1 S.D. Cod. Laws § 49-31-31
Tennessee Tenn. Code § 39-17-315 Tenn. Code § 39-17-308
Texas Tx. Penal Code § 33.07
Utah
Utah Code § 76-5-106.5 Utah Code § 76-9-201 Utah Code § 76-9-201
Vermont Vt. Stat. tit. 13 §§ 106110621063 Vt. Stat. tit. 13 § 1027
Virginia Va. Code § 18.2-60 Va. Code § 18.2-152.7:1 Va. Code § 22.1-279.6
Washington Wash. Rev. Code §§ 9A.46.1109.61.260 Wash. Rev. Code §§ 9A.46.020,10.14.020 Wash. Rev. Code § 28A.300.285
West Virginia W. Va. Code § 61-3C-14a
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. § 947.0125
Wyoming Wyo. Stat. § 6-2-506 Wyo. Stat. §§ 21-4-311 to 21-4-315

Territories:

Guam X.G.C.A. tit. 9 §§ 19.69, 19.70 X.G.C.A. tit. 9 §§ 19.69, 19.70

*  Statute does not specify “electronic” or “Internet,” but refers to stalking “by any action, method, device or means….” [emphasis added]

NCSL Contacts: Cyberstalking and cyberharassment:  Pam Greenberg, Denver.  Cyberbullying and bullying: Yilan Shen, Denver.  Overview and statutory updates contributed by Amelia Sapp, November 2010.

PLEASE NOTE: The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) serves state legislators and their staff.   This site provides comparative information only and should not be construed as legal advice.  NCSL cannot provide assistance with individual cases.

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