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With the new year comes new laws, and 2018 brings with it close to 900 new laws for Californians alone. Most are in effect already as of January 1, while others will become law later in the year.

One of these laws allows for stricter punishment for those who videotape violent crimes and post them on social media. Assembly Bill 1542 was approved by Gov. Jerry Brown on October 11, 2017 and became law on January 1, 2018. It is now added to the penal code as Section 667.95.

Under existing law, when choosing an appropriate punishment, the judge is allowed to consider several factors, such as specified reports received by the court, record of the case and specific statements in aggravation or mitigation. Under the new law, videotaping a violent crime would be considered an aggravating factor when sentencing the defendant.

The judge involved in the case has the legal right to add on additional penalties for anyone involved in a violent crime who videotaped the incident and then posted it on Facebook Live or other form of social media, either live during the attack or afterward. The judge can add on additional prison time or other penalties. However, the judge is under no obligation to enforce additional penalties, and the law is enforced only for 23 violent crimes in California.

The 23 violent crimes in California include murder, mayhem, rape, sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts, robbery, arson, carjacking, assault, extortion, threats and sexual abuse of a child. No additional penalties can be handed down to defendants accused of non-violent crimes or misdemeanors.

The bill was authored by Assemblyman Matt Dababneh from Woodland Hills. He claims that many of these crimes are staged by social media users looking to increase followers by sharing such gruesome footage. The bill was inspired by an attack on a teen from the San Fernando Valley, who suffered a fractured skull in the attack. The teen’s attack was taped and shared on Snapchat. Dababneh believes the law will help the criminal code keep up with changes due to social media and other forms of technology.

The bill, which had bipartisan support, originally was created to add an additional year onto the prison sentences of  those who videotape these crimes. Now, it’s up to the judge’s discretion to determine if additional penalties should be imposed upon the defendant. The judge may consider the defendant’s criminal history, among other factors.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

New laws go into effect every year, so it’s important that you understand the implications if the laws apply to you. A strong criminal defense can help you avoid hefty fines, prison time and other penalties.

If you are facing serious charges due to aggravating factors, seek legal help right away. The criminal defense lawyers at Manshoory Law Group, APC can help. We have a proven track record of excellent results for our clients. To schedule a free case review, contact the team at Manshoory Law Group, APC today at (877) 977-7750.

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