Cyber-Bullying Laws in Western Australia
While there is no specific offence relating to cyber-bullying in Western Australia, there are various offences relating to harassment, threats and intimidation that occurs over the internet. Cyber-bullying can have devastating consequences especially for children who experience it from their peers. It can cause fear, embarrassment, poor performance at school, loss of confidence, revenge cyber-bullying, self-harm, and even suicide. This article deals with different types of cyber-bullying and the cyber-bullying-related offences that a person in WA can be charged with.
Offences relating to cyber-bullying
In Western Australia many offences related to cyber-bullying can be found in the Criminal Code Act Compilation 1913. Some of these are outlined below.
If the behaviour involves using the internet or a phone in a threatening, harassing or offensive way then charges can be laid. If a threat to hurt someone is made then criminal charges may result with a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.
Stalking can also occur when someone gets repeated messages that frightens, or intimidates, them. Under the Criminal Code a stalking offence can attract a penalty of up to three years imprisonment.
If you log into someone else’s online account without permission then you can be charged with unauthorised access which can result in up to two years imprisonment.
Defamation is governed by the Defamation Act 2005, and occurs when untrue information about someone is published.
Encouraging suicide is a crime, and can include causing someone to commit suicide through your actions. The maximum penalty for this is life imprisonment.
What can be done about cyber-bullying?
If you are a victim of cyber-bullying it is important that you tell someone, and take measures so it stops. It is important to know how to block communications from cyber-bullies. If you are at school, then find out about your school’s policy relating to cyber-bullying, and inform the school immediately if it is occurring.
Internet service providers and social media sites also have policies on cyber-bullying and can block a person once a complaint has been made.
If cyber-bullying continues, you can report it to the police, or email the Technology Crime Unit at [email protected] . If the harassment is by phone you can report the behaviour to your phone provider. The provider may investigate and send the person a warning letter. A phone company also has the ability to suspend, or cancel, a person’s account. If the behaviour continues, and you are being stalked, intimidated, harassed, or threatened you can also apply to the court for a protection order to prohibit the person from contacting you.
What to do if you have been accused of cyber-bullying?
In today’s society with unlimited access to social media, cyber-bullying is a very real problem. It is easier to make a derogative comment about someone online than it is to do so to their face.
Cyber-bullying is never acceptable regardless of your intention.
If you have been accused of cyber-bullying the best thing you can do is apologise, and remove the comment immediately. Charges are unlikely to be laid if you do not continue the behaviour. However, if the police become involved then it is important to seek legal advice. As mentioned offences relating to cyber-bullying can result in terms of imprisonment. The law does not deem the offence any less serious because it was committed through social media, or text message, than if the behaviour was done face to face.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.