Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

MA Bullying And RI Cyber-crime Laws…Two Peas In a Prosecutorial Pod

Over the past year, Massachusetts motor vehicle laws have changed a bit. For example, we now have a law against texting while driving.

Apparently, our neighbor to the south, Rhode Island, would like to take anti-text laws a step further. In fact, the legislatvie battle is on to create a new juvenile offense.

Why?

It is the South Hadley to Boston bullying frenzy all over again.

Last night, I was on Fox25 interviewed on this subject and, once again, the subject touched upon the typical legislative/prosecutorial dance…only this time in Rhode Island, not Massachusetts.

As you know, as our technology has grown, so have the ways it can be misused. When we invented the telephone, for example, we provided the opportunity for crank calls and obscene calls. Now, as it has become even easier to communicate at will, via phones that text, email and soon lord-only-knows-what-else, we present the opportunity for “sexting“.

It is important to note that sexting can be done via text…or photographs.

As you would imagine, sending child pornography over texts, as it is in email and regular mail, is illegal. Heck, just possessing it is illegal.

It is also independantly illegal to send such material to kids.

Of course, kids do not always understand the ramifications and adults are not always so great in warning them about it.

Similar to bullying.

The Rhode Island attempted result? Target the kids. Make what is already illegal more illegal and point it at them. Bring the kids into juvenile court and give them a nice keepsake..a criminal, or juvenile, record!

And, yes, illegal materials being sent via email or texting, such as cyber-bullying, is a cyber crime.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Cyber-Crime, Juvenile And Adult

I practice law primarily in Massachusetts . I am not an expert on Rhode Island law. But then, I don’t think I have to be to see what is going on.

I saw the same movie in Massachusetts, warned about it, saw the warnings ignored and found the predictable results occur.

On the other hand, the good folks of Rhode Island seem to have a bit of reluctance to follow the same script given the fact that the new law has not yet passed.

The movie’s plot goes like this…the legislature passes an unnecessary law (or, tries to in this case)) which inevitably not solve the problem, but will make them look like heroes and give everyone a false sense that the problem is solved.

The problem, of course, is not solved…but more kids’ records will be blemished for a long time. You see, adults are not the ones who will be effected…for them to do these acts is already illegal. But kids will still do it and this is a signal to haul them into court as soon as possible.

By the way, as I recall back about 150 years ago when I was a kid, teenage couples sometimes talked dirty to one another. Parents hated it. Teens grew up unscathed.

Now, teens might talk dirty to each other via text or email. Bad idea to be sure. However, particularly if there are no photos…something they should be prosecuted for?

Further, a teenage girl sends nude photos to her boyfriend (let’s say he is 18). Again, bad idea to be sure. Particularly, given the effect the pictures are likely to have on her in later years. So…is she the victim? The criminal? The delinquent?

Frankly, it might be easier to arrest all juveniles three years after birth and be done with it. Perhaps we could make it a rite of passage…a governmental parallel to Confirmations and Bar-Mitzvahs.

Anyway, if you did miss last night’s program, just go to http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/local/rhode-island-lawmakers-to-consider-sexting-ban-25-apx-20110403 and click on the video.

In the meantime if you would like to discuss an adult criminal or juvenile matter with me, please feel free to call me at 617-492-3000 to arrange a free initial consultation..

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