Law Offices of Christie A. Leary P.C.
Call Us: 703-359-7111

Bullying has long been considered an unfortunate part of childhood and has made life difficult for many young people. Some are not aware that bullying can be considered a crime here and can result in serious punishments.

In our state, bullying refers to intentional or repetitive actions that are physical, verbal, or emotional in nature. According to Va. Stat. 18.2-60, a school board is permitted to discipline a student that engages in bullying. In addition to school penalties, a young person may also face criminal charges and consequences depending on the severity of the bullying.

For example, if a person threatens to kill or physically harm someone, they may be charged with a Class 6 felony and face up to five years in jail. If a person attempts to harm someone with force (assault) or actually inflicts harm on someone, they may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and can face anywhere from 1 to 5 years in prison, plus fines. Malicious wounding, or injuring someone with the intent to disfigure, maim, disable or kill, is often the most serious crime that results from bullying and can lead to Class 3 felony charges and 5 to 20 years in jail and fines.

Over the past couple of decades, many people have become involved in cyberbullying, where they send offensive or threatening messages over the internet or via text message. Virginia law classifies harassment by computer as a Class1 misdemeanor and a conviction can result in a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. This harassment is defined as using obscene or indecent language, using a computer with the intent to harass, intimidate or coerce, making obscene suggestions or threatening an illegal or immoral act.

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