SMART PHONES ARE JUST SMALL COMPUTERS, SUBJECT TO IMPULSIVE ACTIONS
Cell phones today serve many utilitarian functions besides being a communications device. One can summon a ride, execute stock trades, research potential vendors, get insurance coverage, write an obituary, buy flight tickets or share photos with friends and family and a myriad of other tasks. As this technology has become commonplace and accessible even to children, a new world of internet crimes also has arisen. Historically, this is nothing new. New technology has brought new crimes before. In the past, we had train robberies occur once the rails went across America. Likewise, we never had obscene phone calls until we had phones. In this blog, this writer will discuss in general terms, based upon cases our office has actually defended, what types of cell phone behavior, under Florida law, gets people arrested.
SENDING A TEXT TO SOMEONE THREATENING TO KILL THEM
This is usually an highly impulsive act committed by a person who is almost always highly emotional and maybe drunk or stoned. This falls under Florida Statute 836.10, is a second degree felony and scores prison under the Florida criminal scoresheet regarding punishment. Prison time, for someone with no record, has been 1-2 years. Also, a charge of this nature is like batting practice to a prosecutor. Usually there is a series of texts to the same victim and since texts never disappear, the screen shots of the texts are simply provided to the defense attorney in discovery. It is this writer’s experience that the cell phone being constantly on one’s person takes away the timeframe where the soon to be accused would have to get in front of a desktop computer. Perhaps a slight delay could give a person time to calm down. These cases also usually involve a very scared victim coming into court and stating their fears on the record at a sentencing hearing.
IF ON PROBATION, DON’T POST GUN AND WEED PICTURES OR HOMEMADE GUN TOTING RAP VIDEOS
This type of violation of probation is almost comical. If one is on felony probation in Florida, they are not supposed to be around guns, dope or anyone committing crimes. The cases this writer has seen of this nature are usually somebody getting even with the probationer. More than one ex-girlfriend has reported her ex-boyfriend to his probation officer concerning acts which could violate him. The defense will try to argue that the pics or videos occurred before the defendant went on probation. The state attorney will bring the ex-girlfriend in to testify that the recording took place while the fellow was on probation. A violation of probation does not mean the state attorney has to prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt. All that is needed is that the probationer willfully and substantially violated probation, and is decided by the Judge not a jury.
Many couples, as part of their dating relationships, send pictures of themselves to their significant other. Pictures can be transmitted within seconds but the repercussions of a picture or video containing nudity can last a lifetime. Usually the unsuspecting person sending a picture of themselves has not thought it through that this image never goes away and is subject to being posted worldwide by the other person. Sometimes the person with pictures of the other will try to apply leverage for a continued relationship, money or special purchases, or simply to disgrace the other party. Very simply, one person demands something out of the other person, or else the pictures and videos are going internet wide. These demands are usually communicated by text messaging to the victim and the state attorney has a very easy case to present. Extortion under Florida law is a second degree felony and can carry up to a 15 year sentence. Continue reading