Criminal defense attorneys must contend with the influence of new technology on a daily basis. Police and prosecutors have a large amount of technology at their disposal designed to convict people for criminal offenses. At a high level, though, technology changes faster than most people can grasp, and is continually changing the way a person experiences the world. Laws, and criminal laws in particular, are slow to keep up with these changes, and more often than not, it takes lawmakers years to catch up with technology. However, when lawmakers do attempt to address new technological advances, the changes implemented are not always for the better. Millions of people use social media every day to learn about current events and communicate with friends and family. California lawmakers, aware of how influential this medium is, are currently considering a bill that would criminalize making video recordings of violent felonies. This legislation is in response to the recent trend of posting videos of attacks to get attention on social media. While attacking someone should not be condoned, this law has the potential to unreasonably restrict a person’s right to free speech, and subject a person to criminal charges for merely being present during the commission of a crime. A discussion of when the proposed law would apply, and the general treatment of violent felonies within California’s criminal justice system, will follow below.
Proposed Crime to Record Attacks
The bill, as it now stands, would make it a crime for an alleged perpetrator, or someone aiding them, to intentionally make a video recording of the commission of a violent felony. While the intent is to deter the commission of the violent felony solely to gain notoriety on social media, the current version of the bill says merely taking the video is a crime in and of itself, and if convicted, would add another year in prison onto the sentence of the underlying felony. Thus, this crime would only apply if a person accused was first convicted of the violent felony depicted in the video recording.
Violent Felonies Generally
Based on a voter referendum passed in 2000, California legislators designated certain felonies as violent. This designation means anyone convicted of a felony labeled as violent would face enhanced sentencing guidelines under California’s Three Strikes Law. For purposes of the Three Strikes Law, the first two felony convictions, or “strikes,” can be for any felony offense, but the third conviction must be for a felony offense classified as violent before the defendant can be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison as the third strike. Further, convictions for violent felonies are excluded from consideration for early parole, and the individual must serve the entire sentence handed down, including any additional years imposed as part of an enhanced sentence (in which the standard punishment is increased for prior crimes, gang activity, use of a firearm and causing serious bodily injury, among other reasons). Some examples of crimes that are labeled as violent felonies include:
- Murder/voluntary manslaughter;
- Attempted murder;
- Extortion; and
- Any first-degree burglary.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing criminal charges of any kind is a serious situation that requires the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, but charges for violent felonies are particularly serious because of the potential life-long consequences. The attorneys at Manshoory Law Group, APC understand what it takes to effectively defend their clients, and will fight to get you the best possible result. Serving clients in Los Angeles, and with attorneys available 24/7 to take your call, contact us for a free consultation.