This week, I noticed a number of cell phone crimes in the media. Unfortunately, none of them were unique. These days, every smartphone has a camera and it’s easier than ever to take an impulsive action that may haunt you for the rest of your life.
1 - The Unlawful Taking of Pictures and Video Recording
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens was indicted on suspicion of sexual misconduct and blackmail after he allegedly snapped nude photos of his former mistress without her consent. A felony charge has been filed because the alleged victim indicated that the photographs were taken without her knowledge or consent and that they were then electronically transmitted. With today’s technology, this type of crime can be completed in a matter of seconds. Snapchat, Instagram, and text messaging allow individuals to take photographs and/or videos and electronically transfer them immediately.
A recent case in Saunders County, Nebraska involved a minor videotaping another minor in a restroom. The recording was then electronically transmitted. While such conduct could result in charges such as creation and distribution of child pornography, it can also be charged under Nebraska Revised Statute §28-311.08 for unlawful intrusion. Under the Nebraska criminal code, it is unlawful for any person to intrude upon any other person without consent in a place of solitude or seclusion and it is unlawful to photograph, film, record, or live broadcast that image regardless of whether it is a public or private place. A “place of solitude” is a place where a person would intend to be in a state of undress and will have a reasonable expectation of privacy – this could be a restroom, locker room, dressing room, etc.
Under Nebraska law, unlawful intrusion is a Class I Misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail and a $1000 fine. However, if the image is distributed to another person or made public, the charge becomes a Class IIA Felony, carrying up to 20 years in prison. Furthermore, if the defendant is 19 years or older, he or she will be required to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act.
2 – Terroristic Threats
The media often highlights cases of cyberbullying. When cyberbullying becomes a threat, it may be charged as a felony in the state of Nebraska. Like the cases above, this is a crime that can be committed in a manner of seconds. The most common mediums for these types of threats are Facebook, Snapchat, and comments sections on online news articles.
Under Nebraska Revised Statute §28-311.01, a person can be convicted of terroristic threats if he or she threatens to commit a crime of violence with:
- the intent to terrorize another;
- the intent to cause evacuation of a building or other place; or
- a reckless disregard of causing terror or evacuation.
In some instances, the alleged perpetrator is angry at a former spouse over failure to pay child support and threatens violence. Other times, a terroristic threat can be the result of a heated political discussion. Regardless, anyone who makes a terroristic threat can be charged with a felony. Many times, the argument that the threat was made as free speech or as a joke is not an effective defense.
3 – Cell Phone Destruction
It is a property crime to intentionally break someone else’s cell phone. Nevertheless, this happen frequently. During domestic arguments, it is not uncommon for one partner to grab the other’s phone and intentionally smash or break it. It is against the law to take someone else’s phone and it is against the law to break someone else’s phone.
Furthermore, in some cases it can be a crime to destroy information on a phone. This is often true when an individual deletes information during a criminal investigation. For example, during an interstate drug stop, if a suspect is placed in a police car and then gets out his phone and then starts deleting text messages, he could be charged with tampering and/or destroying evidence.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
Smartphones have made it easier to do a lot of things more quickly. This includes committing crimes. Unfortunately, one quick impulsive act with a smartphone lasting a matter of seconds could result in lifetime consequences associated with felony criminal charges. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime committed with a cell phone, contact Berry Law Firm’s team of attorneys today.