Cyberbullying has serious criminal and civil consequences for perpetrators, who can face either criminal or civil charges depending on the damage caused by their actions. Although there is no federal law that specifically targets cyberbullying, bullies can still be charged through existing civil laws for defamation, creating an unsafe environment and for the consequences of their actions, especially when it is possible for them to anticipate those consequences.
A cyber bully can also be charged under criminal laws for crimes such as harassment and could face up to 10 years in prison. Cyber bullies can also face charges of defamatory libel that could earn at least five years in prison. The consequences of cyberbullying to their targets are greater than traditional bullying because they not only involve the bully and his target but all of the people in the target's social circles, such as friends, relatives and classmates. The traumatising effects of cyberbullying may cause targets to harm or kill themselves as a result of the shame and embarrassment they go through when bullied. Some states have enacted legislation that can be used to deter cyber bullies, known as cyber harassment statutes, that specifically include cyberbullying as part of their bullying laws.