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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

Wheaton cyberbullying defense lawyerFor young people in the 21st century, growing up under the influence of the internet and social media has resulted in different forms of bullying than in the past. Though cyberbullying is not new, it has continued to evolve as social media formats change. Internet usage among young adults has changed from IMing to DMing, from texting to tweeting, and from posting on Tumblr to selecting the best filter for an Instagram photo. Because the social media realm is ever-changing, new bullying tactics emerge as online trends change. 

Cyberbullying can occur through messaging, social media sites, and gaming programs. The United States at large has recognized the problem of cyberbullying; however, laws and regulations change state-by-state. Illinois has taken actions to reduce cyberbullying and improve youths’ experiences in junior high and high school, and those accused of cyberbullying should work with a criminal defense attorney to understand their rights and legal options.

Illinois Law: On Paper and In Practice 

Illinois has laws and policies against cyberbullying, in keeping with the majority of the country. Illinois has passed legislation highlighting the terms bullying, harassment, and intimidation when discussing cyberbullying. Anti-bullying laws are meant to protect individuals from harassment due to their race, religion, sex, age, marital status, etc. Using digital means to attack any person based on these distinguishing characteristics is considered cyberbullying, and it can result in criminal charges, as well as consequences for students such as suspension or expulsion from school. 

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cyberbullying in Illinois, DuPage criminal defense lawyerTraditional bullying seems to have taken on a new meaning in the digital age. What used to consist of hitting, punching, teasing, or taunting, has in recent years led to digital abuse over online platforms that has led to the suicides of many troubled adolescents. The federal government has had significant difficulty in prosecuting and investigating claims of cyberbullying, that is, to harass, stalk, embarrass, manipulate, or taunt others via electronic means such as through computers, cellphones, or other devices. Such communication may be sexual in nature, may involve explicit photographs, or may eventually lead to blackmail.

This difficulty in prosecuting cyberbullying cases is due to a variety of factors. It can be difficult to determine a single cause that led to a suicide. With third-party parents, other youth, and online predators playing a role, it can be very difficult to pinpoint who is using a specific computer at a specific time, especially if multiple members of a household share a computer. Some think children are being too sensitive; others blame the parents for failing to supervise their children’s online activity. Regardless of where we wish to place the blame, everyone seems to agree that someone should be responsible when a child’s life ends after being endlessly harassed.

Illinois Makes an Effort to Combat Cyberbullying Regardless of the difficulty of enforcing such laws at the federal level, many states have taken on measures to prevent, what many consider, to be a cyberbullying epidemic. Illinois has now joined the ranks of the vast majority of states implementing anti-cyberbullying laws, though as many states, this law will only target one area of cyberbullying. Revenge Porn One particularly vicious form of cyberbullying involves disseminating personal or sexual photographs to unapproved third parties. This is an all-too-common occurrence among youth, and such proliferation of private images has been attributed to several adolescent suicides. Recipients of personal photographs may blackmail or threaten victims to give additional, more revealing pictures. The psychological pressures an adolescent may face with the fear of photo distribution can lead to tragic consequences. The New Laws The new Illinois law specifically targets this type of “revenge porn,” making distribution of sexual images without the photographed individual’s consent a Class 4 felony. Other related measures include allowing educators more freedoms in punishing children caught cyberbullying at school, whether on their personal or school-owned electronic devices. Many cyberbullying cases are simply charged as basic harassment claims, which are pre-existing laws at both the federal and state level. Illinois Cybercrime Criminal Defense Attorneys Cybercrimes of any nature are particularly serious, given that they are often charged federally. Even at the state level, a cybercrime of a sexual nature may lead to permanent consequences that may affect your ability your family, your work, your finances, and your social status. Prosecutors throughout the country have been creative with finding ways to punish cyberbullies; hiring an experienced DuPage County Internet sex crime lawyer is the best way to combat these tactics. At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., we understand the sensitive nature of these cases and what is on the line for your future. If you have stepped over boundaries on the Internet, you may be in trouble. Contact our DuPage, Cook, Kane, or Will County criminal defense law offices at 630-472-9700 to learn more about your legal rights today.

According to CBS Chicago, a now former Maywood police officer is being held on a $200,000 bond. He is being charged with the serious offenses of criminal sexual assault as well as official misconduct for committing illegal acts while on duty.

It is alleged that 38 year old Deon Sims was in his patrol vehicle in Maywood when he noticed a young lady walking along the street. He asked her if she was okay and if she needed any help. He then offered to provide assistance to her. She then allegedly got into the patrol vehicle with him at that time.

DuPage County prosecutors state that he then drove back to the precinct with her still in the vehicle and concluded his shift. He parked his police vehicle and then he and the young lady left in his personal vehicle at that time.

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An Oak Park man was arrested in late October and charged with aggravated child pornography, “after more than 700 pornographic images were found on two computers in his home,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He was released on a $500,000 bond, and the court date was scheduled for the last week of October. Joe V. Hymon, 44, was caught when the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force contacted Oak Park police, after an IP address that was “downloading and uploading files containing pornographic images and videos of children” was linked to Hymon’s home.

The ICAC is, according to the Sun-Times, a task force “comprised of state and local law enforcement agencies that investigate and prosecute cyber enticement and child pornography cases.” The Chicago Police Department has an entire team dedicated to online safety, known as the Internet Child Exploitation Team. Not only does the team work with other law enforcement agencies, it’s also “committed to teaching children and their parents to be safe during their online activities.”

According to statistics from the U.S. Attorney General, there are an estimated 100,000 web sites that offer child pornography. The industry is worth $3 billion annually, and one in every five children is sexually solicited online. According to Illinois State Law, most child pornography cases, such as the one with which Hymon has been accused, are Class 1 felonies, which can result in imprisonment last four to 15 years. Additionally, those convicted of a child pornography crime can face fees ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.

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Posted on in Cybercrime

A little over a year ago, Naperville Illinois resident Travis Edwards was convicted of computer fraud, computer tampering and cyberstalking related to his ex-girlfriend, who was attending Northern Illinois University. Angry over his girlfriend breaking up with him, Edwards began making, deleting and altering purchases using his ex-girlfriend's email, social and financial accounts. Calling himself "Hacker X", Edwards also "made comments about purchasing Chicago Bears tickets, stealing identities and altering passwords". When he began threatening her with physical harm, the ex-girlfriend finally contacted NIU's police department

Edwards later admitted to NIU police that he had threatened to hurt his ex-girlfriend by sending numerous email messages to her, but said he would have never acted on them. Edwards also states that he had deleted items on her Facebook account and attempted to buy images from an internet service using his ex's bank account information. If convicted of cyberstalking, Edwards could be looking at spending three years in jail in addition to court fines and costs.

According to Illinois law, cyberstalking, aggravated cyberstalking, sending obscene messages and electronic harassment is the act of someone "transmitting a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint" towards a particular individual or a family member of that individual. Cyberstalking is also considered illegal when the person or family member of the person being cyberstalked experiences "reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint.”

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