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California bill to increase penalties concerning cyber-bullying

California legislators recently proposed a bill that could toughen penalties for juveniles charged with sharing images of a sexual nature to harass others under the age of 18. Minors charged with a similar offense under current law could be charged with distributing child pornography. However, one attorney who drafted the proposed legislation was hoping to address what is referred to as the bullying nature of sharing these images.

The new legislation if passed in its current form could also result in juveniles being tried as adults if accused of sexually assaulting someone thought to be developmentally disabled, intoxicated or otherwise incapacitated.

This appears to be a part of an ongoing trend in California.  Governor Jerry Brown already signed into law last year a provision that would criminalize what is called "revenge porn."  California was the first state in the nation to enact this sort of legislation.

We have heard a great deal in the news about cybercrime and cyber-bullying.  These types of cases are becoming increasingly frequent with increased use of the internet and social networks.  Yet it must be kept in perspective that individuals charged with alleged internet crimes are entitled to the same presumption of innocence as anyone else is facing criminal charges.  

Juveniles and adults alike are entitled to representation by a competent criminal defense attorney.  And the burden of proof remains upon prosecuting attorneys as all evidence that is admitted must be relevant and reliable.

Especially when we are speaking about juveniles being charged as adults, mistakes cannot be allowed to be made when handing out criminal penalties.  A wrongful conviction can come with an extremely high price.

Source: Reuters, "California bill seeks to curb sexually explicit Internet bullying by teens," Laila Kearney, March 7, 2014

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