Nevada has taken strides to address the issue of cyberbullying among minors through NRS 200.900, which targets the malicious distribution of images or videos showcasing bullying. ATAC LAW is here to guide you through understanding this law, outlining potential defenses, and highlighting the consequences of such charges. Our aim is to provide clarity and options for those navigating these challenges.

NRS 200.900 | Can You Defend Against Electronic Bullying Charges in Nevada?

How Does Nevada Address the Spread of Cyberbullying Among Minors?

Nevada’s education system promotes environments free from bullying. Defined broadly, bullying includes acts that are physical or verbal, and those that inflict harm or distress. In serious cases, administrative actions like suspension to legal consequences such as juvenile or criminal charges may occur. To further shield students, Nevada has a specific statute targeting the electronic spread of bullying, known as NRS 200.900.

Recent legislative updates in Nevada have resulted in NRS 200.900, a law extending beyond traditional bullying to zero in on the electronic spread of bullying-related images. The law targets individuals under 18 who use digital media to disseminate images or videos that showcase the bullying of peers, but it specifically addresses those doing so with the intention to foster more harm.

Imagine a scenario where a student named Max sends disparaging texts to Alex, who has a learning disability. Max then captures these messages and distributes them online, aiming to incentivize others to join in on the taunting. If Max were to be caught, he would be at risk of facing juvenile legal proceedings for actively distributing imagery related to bullying, and for instigating additional harassment towards Alex.

The penalties for such cyberbullying acts are processed through juvenile court, offering procedures somewhat less severe than criminal court but with similar rights, including legal representation and the chance to dispute charges.

What Are the Legal Consequences for Electronic Bullying Among Minors in Nevada?

In Nevada, repercussions for contravening NRS 200.900, the statute addressing electronic bullying, escalate with repeated offenses. The law incrementally increases penalties to discourage perpetuation of such behaviors among youth.

First-Time Offense: Intervention Rather Than Punishment
On an initial offense against NRS 200.900, the court deems the minor as a “child in need of supervision,” an alternative to the label of delinquency. This designation is akin to receiving probation, where the court can impose a variety of corrective measures, which could include:

  • Levying a modest penalty
  • Mandating community service contribution
  • Requiring attendance in an instructive program
  • Suspending the minor’s driving privileges

Consequences for Repeat Offenders: A Stricter Approach
For those who commit a second or subsequent violation, the juvenile system categorizes the child as “delinquent.” The court’s corrective actions now may compound to include up to six months in a juvenile detention center, along with the possible sanctions aforementioned for first-time offenders.

Additional School Discipline
It’s crucial to remember that beyond the purview of laws such as NRS 200.900, schools enforce their own disciplinary measures independent of the juvenile justice system. These school-based penalties can range from temporary suspension to permanent expulsion, depending on the severity and frequency of bullying incidents.

Sealing Juvenile Records: A Path to a Clean Slate
After three years from the adjudication as delinquent, juveniles in Nevada have the right to request the sealing of their records. If no petition is made, most juvenile records will be sealed automatically once the individual turns 21, offering a fresh start.

How Can Defenses Against Charges of Electronic Bullying in Nevada Be Effectively Argued?

Given the recent establishment of NRS 200.900, defense attorneys have the unique opportunity to employ innovative strategies when defending against charges of electronically distributing bullying images. Understanding these potential defenses is crucial for shaping a successful legal strategy.

1. Disputing the Identity of the Sender
One viable defense asserts that the accused did not send the contentious image or video. Given that it’s relatively easy for young people to access and use each other’s smartphones, it’s possible the incriminating activity was conducted by someone else using the defendant’s identity. By casting doubt on the sender’s actual identity, the charge could potentially be dismissed.

2. Questioning the Nature of the Content
Not all content that is perceived as bullying indeed fits the legal definition. The context often dictates interpretation, and what might seem as bullying could be benign or even portray playful acting. Demonstrating that the content does not meet the criteria for bullying could lead to a case dismissal.

3. Verifying the Age of the Alleged Victim
The applicability of NRS 200.900 hinges on the victim being a minor, i.e., under the age of 18. If the individual in the image or video is confirmed to be 18 or older, the case can be considered irrelevant under this statute and consequently dropped.

4. The Intent Behind Distributing Bullying Images
The lack of malicious intent is a significant factor. If a defendant can demonstrate that there was no intent to harm or promote bullying through the distribution of the image or video, the charges might be negated. For instance, if a video was shared to highlight or stop the bullying rather than to contribute to or escalate it, this could be a compelling defense.

Consider the scenario involving Steve, who was on the school playground when he witnessed Dave intimidating and verbalizing threats to someone else, Tom. A teacher noticed Steve capturing the incident on his smartphone and afterwards posting it onto a social network. Charged with breaching NRS 200.900, Steve’s lawyer contended that his client’s intention was to socially condemn Dave’s behavior rather than to harm Tom. If the court accepts that Steve had no harmful intent towards Tom, the judge may determine to dismiss the case.

Ineffective Defenses
It’s important to note that the absence of harm to the victim from the electronic distribution does not mitigate the offense if done with malicious intent under Nevada law. The underlying intent remains a critical component of the charge, regardless of the outcome.

Facing charges under Nevada’s electronic bullying law can be a daunting experience for minors and their families. ATAC LAW specializes in juvenile law, and our team is prepared to defend against such charges, striving for the best possible outcome. If you or someone you know is dealing with potential cyberbullying charges, contact us for expert legal guidance.

For further legal assistance and to discuss your case with an expert, don’t hesitate to contact ATAC LAW.