Parents and children around the country are more concerned than ever about bullying, whether in physical stalking, emotional harassment, or cyber-bullying. In an effort to curb this harmful behavior, several states are cracking down on bullying and enacting anti-bullying laws. In fact, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton recently signed one such anti-bullying bill into law, thereby creating a new set of rules that Minnesota schools must follow in order to protect students from bullying. For instance, school districts are now required to track and investigate cases of bullying, and have an obligation to provide enhanced training to staff and teachers on how to prevent bullying.
According to an article in the Star Tribune, the Safe and Supportive Schools Act replaced a 37-word anti-bullying law that was “widely considered one of the nation’s weakest” anti-bullying laws. Although the law has good intentions – namely, to protect students from the torment of other students – it is not without opponents. In fact, the Star Tribune notes that legislators battled over the bill for more than two years, with opponents arguing that the law was too prescriptive and took away control from local officials. Many opponents continue to have concerns about implementation of the law.
In addition to the new obligations for school districts, Minnesota criminal laws continue to prohibit bullying and cyberbullying. For instance, the following bullying behaviors are currently criminalized in Minnesota:
- Stalking – which is any conduct that the defendant knows (or should know) will cause the victim to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, or intimidated – can result in increased fines and potential imprisonment when the conduct includes a “pattern of stalking” (i.e., two or more incidents in a five year period)
- Harassment – any single incident of physical or sexual assault, or repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted acts or words that actually have (or are intended to have) a substantial adverse effect on the safety or privacy of the victim – could potentially include cyberbullying, especially if the defendant repeatedly transmits electronic communications to or about the victim in a way that invades the victim’s privacy or impacts the victim’s safety.
- Obscene or harassing telephone calls is a criminal charge and could also apply when someone texts obscene or harassing messages.
Contact a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer
While it is important to keep children and students safe and free from bullying, in some cases, allegations of bullying, harassment, or stalking are unwarranted and should be vigorously defended. The Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers at Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys are familiar with the intricate nuances of Minnesota’s anti-bullying laws and other related laws. We will conduct a comprehensive investigation regarding allegations and criminal charges, defending clients facing criminal charges of bullying by seeking dismissal or reduction of charges and/or a reduced sentence.
If you would like more information about Minnesota’s new anti-bullying law or have been charged with a bullying offense, contact our office at (952) 913-1421 to schedule a free consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers.