The internet and texting have opened up massive lines of communication. However, there are exploding rates of cyberbullying and online threats that have become commonplace. In Florida, lawmakers have passed a new bill that will criminally punish people who harm others over these devices.
New electronic threats law
The electronic crimes law states that making an electronic threat is a second-degree felony. It is illegal to send, post and transmit threats to cause a bodily injury or kill a person using an electronic device. This threat must be a direct message from one person to another, and it does not have to be carried out.
Under state law, a second-degree felony carries a maximum punishment of 15 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Opponents of the bill, titled HB 921/SB 1850, wanted further clarifications of the actions that constituted a second-degree felony. They say that the bill does not specifically state what is or is not a threat but only mentions the use of technology. They believe that posting a mere threat is not serious enough to be prosecuted. In general, assault or felony topics do not often include criminal prosecutions for threats.
New laws for old cybercrimes
In some states, threatening and harassing people in a way that threatens injury or death, with the use of an electronic device, is now a serious crime. In addition, it’s very easy to collect evidence because the internet keeps written records of messages on webpages, computer hard drives and web servers.