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Michigan bill would make bullying a misdemeanor crime

A Michigan lawmaker recently proposed a bill that would impact individuals accused of bullying and could result in more criminal charges in the state. The bill would make bullying or cyberbullying a misdemeanor crime, with a punishment of jail time and a fine for those convicted.

The bill was proposed to address the increase in bullying and cyberbullying in Michigan schools and workplaces. Lawmakers who support the bill say that bullying has become a problem in the state and this bill would help prevent future bullying incidents.

The state defines bullying as assaulting or battering another person, calling or referring to another person in a derogatory name or label on two separate occasions or more. Bullying has the intent to intimidate, harass or frighten another individual. Cyberbullying is defined as bullying through a computer network or system.

Under the proposed bill, individuals convicted of bullying or cyberbullying could face a punishment of 93 days in jail, a fine up to $1,000 or both. The punishment for the offense would be up to the discretion of a judge. In addition to possible jail time and a fine, the court could also request a mental health evaluation for offenders.

The bill would allow judges to require a mental health examination to see if offenders need professional treatment. If the offender is required to have professional mental health treatment, the offender or their parent or guardian will be required to cover the expenses for the treatment.

Supporters of the bill say that providing treatment for individuals convicted of bullying or cyberbullying will help rehabilitate offenders as well as allow the court to expunge the charges after the offender has completed treatment. If the bill is passed and signed into law, more people could face misdemeanor charges for bullying. However, the charges could be expunged from the offender’s criminal record if he or she completes any treatment required by the court.

Source: Click On Detroit, “Michigan lawmaker wants to make bullying a crime,” May 28, 2013

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