Suffolk County, NY
 
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Human rights — See Ch. 528.
538a Uncod LL Pro
[Adopted 6-22-2010 by L.L. No. 36-2010 (Ch. 327B, Art. I, of the 1985 Code)]

§ 538-1 Legislative intent.

A. 
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that bullying is a long-standing problem among school-aged children in Suffolk County and throughout the nation.
B. 
This Legislature also finds and determines that, with the advent of technology, bullying has transformed from a predominantly school-based issue into a broader societal problem.
C. 
This Legislature further finds and determines that cyberbullying, which consists of repeated nonphysical bullying behaviors transmitted by electronic means, is the newest form of harassment.
D. 
This Legislature finds that cyberbullying is rampant: 42% of children in the fourth through eighth grades surveyed in a recent poll reported being bullied online.
E. 
This Legislature determines that cyberbullying follows its victims everywhere they go, can occur as frequently as the aggressor desires, and can take place at any time of the day or night, as it is perpetrated online and/or through text and picture messages on cellular phones and handheld devices.
F. 
This Legislature also finds that perpetrators of cyberbullying are often more extreme in the threats and taunts they inflict on their victims, as they do not actually see their victim's emotional reaction to the abuse and believe they are anonymous.
G. 
This Legislature further finds that victims of cyberbullying suffer very real and serious harm as a result of these incidents, often showing signs of depression, anxiety, social isolation, nervousness when interacting with technology, low self-esteem, and declining school performance.
H. 
This Legislature also determines that, in some cases, victims attempt or commit suicide in part because of the cyberbullying they have endured.
I. 
This Legislature further determines that several states have enacted laws criminalizing cyberbullying, but, to date, the New York State Legislature has failed to address this problem.
J. 
This Legislature finds that Suffolk County should do everything in its power to protect its school-aged residents from such reprehensible behavior.
K. 
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to ban the cyberbullying of minors in the County of Suffolk.

§ 538-2 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
CYBERBULLYING
Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts of abusive behavior over a period of time, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, and which serve no legitimate purpose, by communicating or causing a communication to be sent by mechanical or electronic means, posting statements on the Internet or through a computer network. Acts of abusive behavior shall include, but not be limited to: taunting; threatening; intimidating; insulting; tormenting; humiliating; disseminating embarrassing or sexually explicit photographs, either actual or modified, of a minor; disseminating the private, personal or sexual information, either factual or false, of a minor; or sending hate mail.
MINOR
Any natural person or individual under the age of 19.
PERSON
Any natural person or individual.

§ 538-3 Prohibitions.

No person shall engage in cyberbullying against a minor in the County of Suffolk.

§ 538-4 Penalties for offenses.

Any person who knowingly violates the provisions of this article shall be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year's imprisonment.

§ 538-5 Applicability.

This article shall apply to all actions occurring on or after the effective date of this article.

§ 538-6 Reverse preemption.

This article shall be null and void on the day that statewide or federal legislation goes into effect incorporating either the same or substantially similar provisions as are contained in this article or in the event that a pertinent state or federal administrative agency issues and promulgates regulations preempting such action by the County of Suffolk. The County Legislature may determine via mere resolution whether or not identical or substantially similar statewide legislation has been enacted for the purposes of triggering the provisions of this section.
[Adopted 6-22-2010 by L.L. No. 37-2010 (Ch. 327B, Art. II, of the 1985 Code)]

§ 538-7 Legislative intent.

A. 
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that stalking and harassment are serious crimes that frequently put victims in fear for their physical safety.
B. 
This Legislature also finds and determines that, traditionally, crimes of stalking and harassment are committed through the mail, on telephones or in close physical proximity to the victim.
C. 
This Legislature further finds and determines that, due to advances in technology, stalking and harassment are increasingly occurring through the use of the Internet and perpetrators can obtain increased information regarding the whereabouts and activities of their victims at any given moment.
D. 
This Legislature finds that online stalking and harassment behaviors, now known as "cyberstalking," are repeated acts of nonphysical harassment against adults which are transmitted by electronic means.
E. 
This Legislature also finds that cyberstalking can occur at any time, anywhere and can be perpetrated by individuals far away from the physical location of their victims, as it is perpetrated online and/or through text and picture messages on cellular phones and handheld devices.
F. 
This Legislature determines that cyberstalking has been shown to cause significant psychological trauma to victims.
G. 
This Legislature also finds that cyberstalking behavior frequently escalates into off-line stalking and harassment, with victims frequently enduring harassing and repeated phone calls, threats, obscene mail, vandalism, trespassing and physical assault.
H. 
This Legislature further finds that the victims of cyberstalking suffer real and serious harm, including, but not limited to, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, nightmares, changed eating and sleeping habits, and fear for their safety.
I. 
This Legislature also determines that a few states have enacted laws criminalizing cyberstalking, but, to date, the New York State Legislature has failed to address this problem.
J. 
This Legislature further determines that Suffolk County should do everything in its power to protect its residents from such dangerous behavior which provides a gateway for the commission of further crimes.
K. 
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to prohibit the cyberstalking of adults in the County of Suffolk.

§ 538-8 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ADULT
Any natural person or individual age 19 or over.
CYBERSTALKING
Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts of abusive behavior over a period of time, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, and which serve no legitimate purpose, by communication or causing a communication to be sent by mechanical or electronic means, posting statements on the Internet or through a computer network. Acts of abusive behavior shall include, but not be limited to: threatening; intimidating; tormenting; humiliating; disseminating embarrassing or sexually explicit photographs, either actual or modified, of a person without his or her permission; or disseminating the private, personal or sexual information of a person without his or her permission.
PERSON
Any natural person or individual.

§ 538-9 Prohibitions.

No person shall engage in cyberstalking against an adult in the County of Suffolk.

§ 538-10 Penalties for offenses.

Any person who knowingly violates the provisions of this article shall be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year's imprisonment.

§ 538-11 Applicability.

This article shall apply to all actions occurring on or after the effective date of this article.

§ 538-12 Reverse preemption.

This article shall be null and void on the day that statewide or federal legislation goes into effect incorporating either the same or substantially similar provisions as are contained in this article or in the event that a pertinent state or federal administrative agency issues and promulgates regulations preempting such action by the County of Suffolk. The County Legislature may determine via mere resolution whether or not identical or substantially similar statewide legislation has been enacted for the purposes of triggering the provisions of this section.