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Does New Bill That Would Make Uploading a Video of a Fight a Crime Go Too Far?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

fight video, new law, Elgin criminal defense lawyerAll over the nation, videos of teens and young adults fighting have been uploaded to various websites. There has been growing concern that this practice encourages violent behavior and acts of violence. Recently, one Illinois lawmaker proposed a bill to make the practice illegal.

What the Proposed Bill Would Do

While the proposed bill itself is only a paragraph long, it has several different components. The measure would categorize several different types of behavior under the Class A misdemeanor of disorderly conduct.

In order to qualify as a crime of disorderly conduct, the person would first have to knowingly upload a video to a social media website or a social networking website containing footage of:

  • A crime being committed;
  • A gang-related fight;
  • A battery committed with the intent to cause a person to become unconscious; or
  • Other display of violence

The person uploading the video would also have to do so with the intention of promoting or condoning the activity in the video. Additionally, it would also be a crime not to give law enforcement a copy of the uploaded video if it was requested.

Problems With the Bill

The intention behind the bill is to curb the disturbing trend of teens and young adults posting so-called knockout videos and staging fights to later post online. The proposed measure, however, may present several problems if enacted as currently drafted.

First, the list of actions that cannot be filmed and uploaded is broad. With terms like  "a crime being committed" and "other acts of violence" it could include every crime now on the books and even, arguably, videos of vicious football hits and martial arts competitions.

Second, the bill only addresses uploading to "social media" and "social networking" sites. Someone could still post the video to a personal website. Defining what a social media site or social networking site is could be difficult for prosecutors and the court.

Lastly, it would be tough for prosecutors to prove that someone uploaded a video with the intention of promoting or condoning the activity. Even if it could be proven, doing so may may infringe on people’s First Amendment right to free speech. 

Other Solutions?

There is some argument that the bill is not needed because existing laws already make the targeted conduct illegal. The crime of conspiracy would apply to anyone working with criminals to film their exploits. Depending on how closely the videographers and the criminals are working, the videographers could be charged with the same crime as those actually committing the violence, similar to the way the driver of a getaway car can also be charged with bank robbery, without even entering the bank.

If you have been charged with a crime, you need to speak with a skilled Elgin criminal defense attorney. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free consultation right away at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola. Do not speak to anyone about your case until you have talked to a lawyer.

Sources:

http://wqad.com/2016/02/09/illinois-lawmaker-wants-to-make-posting-fight-videos-a-crime/

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=88&GA=99&DocTypeId=HB&DocNum=4419&GAID=13&LegID=93213&SpecSess=&Session=

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