In 2007, New Jersey added “electronic communication” to its existing anti-bullying laws for schools. New Jersey's laws require school districts to establish strong anti-bullying procedures, and encourage reporting of such incidences. However, a new law that has been passed in Louisiana, goes much further than that.
Under Louisiana's laws, it is now a crime for anyone to send an intimidating, threatening or harassing text message or e-mail to another person below the age of 17. The law also includes older persons harassing young people through electronic communication methods. Under the bill, it is now a misdemeanor for a teenager below the age of 17 in Louisiana to taunt or harass someone else of his age group. Adults, who have been found to harass persons below the age of 17, will be subject to felony charges.
This will make New Jersey criminal defense lawyers more than a little amused. Under Louisiana's laws now, a jilted girlfriend e-mailing her ex, calling him a putz, would be designated a criminal. So, would a mother who posts on her sons’ Facebook Wall, ordering him to clean up his room, or else.
You would think with thousands of miles of Louisiana coastline contaminated by oil from the Gulf of Mexico leak, lawmakers would have enough to worry about. You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a New Jersey criminal defense attorney to know how absurd this law is. You can't lump a whole range of text messages, e-mails, forums postings, posts on Facebook and MySpace and a host of other Internet messages into a single category, and brand them all as criminal activities. It is beyond silly, and it's more than likely that this bill will hardly protect those it’s meant to.