What are the Possible Legal Consequences of Cyberbullying?
Aside from the main sentence an offender receives for a criminal offence related to cyberbullying (i.e. a jail sentence), there are several other consequences they might face. These secondary consequences are known as ancillary orders that a judge might impose depending on the circumstances of each offence and case. For offences such as the sharing of intimate images without consent, an offender may be required to register as a sex offender pursuant to a SOIRA order. The offender may also have to provide a sample of their DNA pursuant to a DNA order. Depending on the case, a court may also issue an order restricting access to children, which would impact the places they offender would be able to go. In some cases, the court may even restrict access to the internet.
For other offences related to property, an offender may be subject to a forfeiture order which requires them to give up any property they used to commit an offence, such as their computer. Often the items forfeited were seized by law enforcement when the offender was arrested. If an offender managed to extort or otherwise take a victim’s property as part of their cyberbullying, the court will order the offender to return the items or pay for their value under a restitution order if return of the items is not possible. In most cases, offenders will be ordered to pay victim fines as well.
Apart from the legal consequences of committing an offence connected to cyberbullying, an offender will have to deal with the social stigma of having a criminal record. This reality could impact the offender’s ability to find work, or even to travel internationally depending on the offence they were convicted of.
Will an Offender go to Jail for Cyberbullying?
Whether an offender will be imprisoned for an offence related to cyberbullying depends on the offence they committed and the circumstances of that offence. In general, under Canadian law, imprisonment is the sentence of last resort for offenders and will not be imposed unless there are no other suitable options that are appropriate to the offender’s situation. Imprisonment is even rarer when the charged person is a young offender. One of the main purposes of the Canadian criminal justice system is to rehabilitate offenders rather than solely punish them.
Based on these principles, the job of the court in every case is to determine the most appropriate sentence. To accomplish this, a court must look at all the facts of a case. That includes reviewing the circumstances of both the offender and any victims. Each case features a unique set of factors known as aggravating and mitigating factors that increase or decrease the sentence an offender should receive respectively. Examples of aggravating factors might include: the nature and severity of an offence, how many times it was committed, whether the offender abused a position of power over the victim, or if the victim was a vulnerable person such as a child. Examples of mitigating factors may include whether the offender pled guilty to the charged offence, the offender’s lack of criminal history, or their young age. A court will consider all factors that may be present in a case and from there will determine if an offender convicted of a crime related to cyberbullying will be imprisoned.