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New York Wants To Punish Criminals For Incriminating Selves On YouTube

from the if-you-confess,-we-punish-you-more dept

We've been seeing plenty of stories lately that incorrectly place the blame when people film themselves doing something illegal and put that video online. This should be something where politicians and the police should be thrilled. After all, it makes it that much easier for the police to find them, arrest them and convict them of a crime. If people are so stupid to post evidence of their crime in public, then isn't that a good thing? Yet, politicians who incorrectly like to put the blame for the crime on the video of the crime, come up with harebrained proposals like a new one in New York that will make putting a video of yourself committing a violent crime online a felony in itself (above and beyond whatever charges you might face for the violence). Think about that for a second. New York politicians are basically telling people that they'll get charged with even greater crimes if they decide to incriminate themselves by posting evidence online. This makes no sense.

The reasoning behind the bill is that politicians believe people are committing these kinds of crimes for the publicity in the first place. The thinking is that such crimes wouldn't happen at all if they couldn't be put online. However, that's rather meaningless. If someone is going to commit a violent crime -- punish the violence itself. Not the fact that the idiots handed over the evidence as part of a publicity stunt. If the (small number) of idiots who commit violent crimes and post the videos online are getting caught and arrested for the violence itself, shouldn't that act as enough disincentive?

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  1. identicon
    Joseph B, 13 May 2008 @ 9:05am

    Busy Work

    The lawmakers need something to do so that they'll look busy.

    Pretty much all of the criminal laws that we need have already been passed, so now the legislators spend their time increasing the penalties for existing laws and coming up with all kinds of variations of the existing laws - which then allows the prosecutor to really pile on the charges for a single crime.

    I read an idea somewhere (I wish I could remember where) that all laws should have an expiration date. Then the legislators can spend their time reviewing and renewing the existing laws instead of coming up with all of these idiotic new laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Rekrul, 13 May 2008 @ 9:14am

    "In other news, talking about crimes you've committed has been deemed to be promotng illegal activity and is now illegal. Henceforce, it will be against the law for criminals to confess a crime to the police..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    known coward, 13 May 2008 @ 9:23am

    This is the ny legislature we are talking about

    no one should be surprised.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    anonymous coward, 13 May 2008 @ 9:35am

    Piling-On laws

    This is routine. Many laws are created only to be enforced as a bargaining tool. If DA doesn't have enough solid evidence to convict someone on a real charge, s/he adds charges with the piling-on laws. This takes the cost of defending one's self to astronomical heights. The defendants choice is plea bargain or poverty, regardless of guilt or innocence. This is a totally corrupt, apparently common, practice. The DA gets a "kill", vital for his bid for high political office. The defendant is hosed, regardless. The perp gets off scott free. The perp then gets to do more things, which provides the DA with additional opportunities for easy "kills". Win for DA, win for perp, lose for the average nobody and society at large. It helps that most jurors choose to be brain-dead sheeple.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    JS Beckerist (profile), 13 May 2008 @ 9:45am

    Re: Busy Work

    Actually, I read the same comment in regards to an expiration date. It might even be on this site, and I agree, it makes an awful lot of sense and would basically mean job security for politicians!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Boost, 13 May 2008 @ 9:55am


    Isn't this a violation of the first amendment anyway?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2008 @ 9:59am


    Sounds like a good idea. Why should the police have it easy ? They must be kept busy as well..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    EVIL_BASTARD, 13 May 2008 @ 10:01am

    This is NY remember. It should surprise no one that they make laws to either grease wheels or satisfy some inner insanity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    CJ, 13 May 2008 @ 10:03am

    So when can we expect the law that fines FoxNews, CNN, and other news agencies for making violent crime a publicity/notoriety field day (especially for depressed wackos with unfortunate assualt rifle access)? I might actually be able to get behind that one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2008 @ 10:06am

    If the perpetrator isn't deterred by the fact that the violence is illegal, will they be deterred by the fact that posting the video is illegal?

    Maybe it's not about deterrence. Will this result in longer sentences for the bastards who do this? If so I can't say I'm entirely against it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Hank, 13 May 2008 @ 10:11am

    Congress moves in reverse.....

    if congress actually solved real problems they would have to do real work. This is just a way for them to look busy and waste more of our tax dollars.

    In the end it will be found that this would violate the 1st amendment. But that won't stop them from spending millions of dollars to "look busy" for a while.

    Personally I think it should be encouraged for criminals to post video evidence of their crimes online, but it should be required that they fill in their personal info too to make them easier to find. Then when they go to trial the only evidence needed should be the video and it should be an open and shut case. If they are dumb enough to incriminate themselves, why stand in their way?

    We need some chlorine in the gene pool, I say we start with congress and spread out from there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Victor Salazar, 13 May 2008 @ 10:21am

    I think you're all missing the point. Not only would such criminals be charged with the initial crime, but they would also be charged with posting the video in a public forum, as an act of bragging about the crime. Not only has the victim been harmed in the crime, but they are further damaged by the public display of the crime for entertainment purposes. It has nothing to do with the rights of the criminal, it concerns the rights of the victim and the general public to feel safe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    thinking inside the box, 13 May 2008 @ 10:23am

    If the motive for posting criminal activity on the internet is publicity, then why wouldn't the criminals post videos of themselves posting a video of the original crime. Two crimes in one! Wouldn't that just bring them more "fame"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Fitz, 13 May 2008 @ 10:33am

    punish a celebrity in public

    It's not as one-sided as you would have it.

    Posting a video of a VIOLENT crime online would serve to glorify this type of act and encourage more public acts of violence.

    @Boost, fortunately the first amendment doesn't encourage doing harm to others

    Also, in the event that the person posting the video online was not actually involved in the actions, this would allow the law to cast a wider net and help prevent people gaining from others' pain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2008 @ 10:33am


    Victor, I think you have missed the point. If the act of posting a crime is a crime itself, then isn't all video that shows a crime -- even if it is a television show, a crime? When you watch CSI, is the act of filming it a crime? Do we put an exception to the rule that it is ok if it is not real? What have you gained? This is a dumb idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    doublehack, 13 May 2008 @ 10:40am

    not so dumb

    I don't think it's a dumb law at all. The point is to deter the people who are committing crimes with the specific intention of posting them online. In the courtroom it might not have so much influence on the actual sentencing of crimes, but as the law is publicized, we'll get the deterrent effect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    snowburn14, 13 May 2008 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re:

    Seems to me, Fitz nailed the meat of it. This isn't aimed just at people posting videos of themselves, but people posting videos of others as well. Making that a crime gives them leverage to go after whoever posted it to get them to give up the person who actually did it. This way, they don't need to get a positive ID on the person from the video, as long as they track down whoever put it online.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    KeyBORED, 13 May 2008 @ 10:46am

    Good call

    Good call Victor (#12). I think you are right on target. Public display of the rime for entertainment is wrong but it is being encouraged. Good for NY if they are trying to slow it down.

    And for the Anonymous Coward (#15). WTF? Do you really think CSI is a film documenting real crimes? WAA!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2008 @ 10:51am

    Thank you. You just pointed the idiocity (heard it on nascar so it must be a word) of "hate crimes".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2008 @ 11:11am

    I support the new law, some dopes are doing these crimes for the whole purpose of putting it online, it just as well they are charged harder than if they didn't post the crime online.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2008 @ 11:36am

    instead of expiration dates, any law that isnt used on a perpetrator, tried, gone to court, and found guilty, should expire within a certain period of time. Therefore they wouldnt need to waste their time making sure murder was still legal, but having sex with a pig would FINALLY be legal! Finally we could stop petitioning on THAT unfair law

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    deve, 13 May 2008 @ 12:06pm


    i commit crimes because they are seen on cctv

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Bright Idea!, 13 May 2008 @ 12:55pm

    "Hate Crime"

    I guess this falls in the category of hate crimes! A more tougher sentence if when you kill someone you hate them, and a lesser sentence whne you love someone then kill them!
    The funny thing is these politicians have voters that support them!

    They are all corrupt!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Iszi, 13 May 2008 @ 12:57pm

    So... How about COPS?

    I'm following #15 down the rabbit hole here, just a little bit:

    So, there could imaginably be exceptions made (or for that matter, not even necessary when you think about it) for shows like Law & Order, CSI, et. al., where there is no actual commission of crime taking place. However, what about shows like COPS, or others where the crime on tape is real? How could you make an exemption for that, without putting a Mack truck-sized hole in the law?

    I'm with #6 - First Amendment FTW.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    ken, 13 May 2008 @ 1:06pm

    Re: punish a celebrity in public

    @punish (14)

    Your response to the comment regarding the first amendment makes no sense; it has nothing to do with "encouraging" anything. It says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech ...", not that congress cannot abridge free speech unless they feel its okay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Relonar, 13 May 2008 @ 1:29pm

    my thoughts as follows:
    violent crime is bad.
    the more technical the law the faster it becomes abused.
    many proposed laws seem to be politically motivated.
    I am not a lawyer, and as such can't give advise, but I can bitch!

    felony conviction as a -separate- crime seems harsh, and I oppose such a law.

    I believe that it should be an aggregating factor to the crime itself. (such as armed robbery goes, did one get robbed with a knife, pistol, or a ten barrel 50cal minigun mounted under the poptop of my truck ;) )

    The law should be written such that if one were to commit the crime to incite other crimes it would be a bit more harsher then say, one's buddy got a shot of one sticking some poor guy in the face.

    Also it should be an aggravating factor if the purpose of the video was to further the attack on a person. Now I know it might be hard to prove intent in this case, but it would certainly hold up in certain cases.

    If the video was posted by a third party, leads to the arrest of the perpetrator, and the victim has the right have the video taken down for Any reason. Then no action should be taken against the poster.

    on a completely unrelated note this makes me want to get together with a few of my buddies over in communications to create a troll video for what looks like a realistic beating. although there are probably laws that labels the planning of such a movie as 'attempting to incite terrorism' or some other bs and punishable by repeated slapping with a wet trout. (or whatever the cia is using these days)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Jake, 13 May 2008 @ 1:47pm

    I sympathise with the idea in principle, but what's wrong with simply charging whoever holds the camera as an accessory and/or with conspiracy to commit? I believe it's also considered an aggravating factor in the UK, which means the judge can tack on an extra few years in prison if they deem it appropriate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Hank, 13 May 2008 @ 2:01pm

    Re: punish a celebrity in public

    You make a good point Fitz. I didn't think about people posting crimes their friends committed while they filmed.

    Although wouldn't they be an accessory to the crime if they knowingly video taped it and didn't report it? The law would still be somewhat redundant wouldn't it?

    Can someone familiar with the law clarify this please?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    bobbknight, 13 May 2008 @ 3:35pm

    Here In NY

    One of the problems here is that we got a system that creates crap laws to enrich lawyers. And empower judges beyond administrators of law.
    Yet so any of our politicians are closet pederasts, Elliot?
    We can't get Megan' law passed here.
    Also they are real good a setting up commissions to oversee things like road tolls, and not do the job they were voted in to do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Ferin, 14 May 2008 @ 5:11am

    Two minds

    I'm a bit torn here. On the one hand, I'd say we should reward them for making the investigation and conviction that much easier on the authorities. On the other hand, I kind of think we should punish them a little more harsly, just cause they were so stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Victor Salazar, 14 May 2008 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re:

    Crimes shown on TV shows are done by actors. Nobody really got hurt. I think you would be more offended seeing your mother get raped during a home invasion on YouTube then watching a similar crime on a TV show. I agree that shows like CSI are stupid...they're all the same and I personally don't enjoy watching them because they're all the same, boring. You should stop sympathizing with the criminals in this case and think about the victims...the victims of the real crimes...who's suffering is extended through the posting of the experience on the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    oregonnerd, 11 Jun 2008 @ 9:13am

    Re: confession as a crime

    Nice comment. That sums it. I hope Mike and crew saw it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Jeff, 22 May 2011 @ 6:07am

    am I the only one who gets this?

    First of all notice that it's violent crimes that people are being charged with posting, not car theft. It's illegal to show pornography to children because showing something can have a negative effect on the viewer.

    Also I have a suspicion that some people would commit crimes simply for the thrill of being seen doing it. If the truly terrible things that happen in this world were all recorded and displayed for all to see, they would have a much greater affect on the world. The crime would reach past the victim, and damage the sense of wellbeing of many of those who viewed it.

    Of course the police would be furious about such posts. It's evidence of them not having been able to prevent a crime, and a mockery of them by the criminal by being so bold.

    Like any job in the world it's not as important what they're actually getting done, as what the perception is of what they're getting done.

    If you were a police officer would you be safeguarding each and every person's safety and and happiness all day every day? When your limitations or infrequent low performance were made evident, would you like such evidence on display to your superiors or the general public?

    It's a job. They are people. I'm not a cop. I don't have a friend or family member who is.

    Maybe I'm a bit off topic, but seriously it's dead obvious to me why politicians would want to pass a law against posting violent crimes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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