N.J. considers updating protections against harassment

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure that would create a new crime called “cyberharassment.”

Laws addressing harassment laws have not kept up with advances in technology, said state Sen. Donald Norcross.

A Senate committee has advanced his bill that makes it a crime to use any electronic device or social networking site to threaten someone or send lewd materials with the intent of causing emotional harm.

“We certainly understand people’s First Amendment right, and we want to respect it,” said Norcross, D-Camden. “We want to make this as clear as we can. This will give prosecutors the ability to go after those who are harming our children or other adults.”

Offenders could face fines up to $10,000 and 18 months in prison. The penalties would increase for those over the age of 21 who were cyberharassing a minor.

Offenders younger than 16 could be ordered to attend a training program to learn about the harm their online behavior can cause.

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