There is an interesting case in Granbury, Texas where two middle school students created a fake Facebook page for a 12-year-old classmate. That would normally result in a serious sit down with school officials and parents for the students, aged 12 and 13. In this case, however, the two were arrested for online impersonation, a third-degree felony. The case raises another example of how we have criminalized so much of our society. The over-criminalization of our society has taken misconduct that was once a matter of private or school discipline and converted it into felonies.
The Facebook page was active for a month and had 63 friends. Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds is quoted as saying that “They put cuss words and made threats toward other students and basically cultivated a bad reputation for the victim.” It is not clear to me why that is a criminal act. The girls spent nine days in the juvenile detention facility.
One of the mothers of the victims called police. Police monitored the site for a couple of weeks before arresting the girls. I have written about the need to crackdown on bullying in schools. However, the worst cases would seem ripe for civil rather than criminal relief. This is one such such where a lawsuit would seem more than adequate to deter this type of misconduct.
What do you think?
Source: Star Telegram
33 thoughts on “Two Teenage Girls Arrested For Fake Facebook Page”
Just how do You know if am I truly who I am sayng I am right now. Those of you who really think harm was done in this cae are foolish.
Malisha, fine idea.
Lottakatz and Blouise have convinced me too, but again, I wish the school could institute some kind of TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION. I would like to see these two girls tell an auditorium full of kids what they did, why they did it, what they were thinking, and own up to the truth, and explain how they came up with the lies. Then I’d like the victims to be given the opportunity (but not the responsibility) to say how it affected them.
There is something about our society being built on liability rather than accountability that is infecting us at the most basic level. It has already “gone viral.”
“On line impersonation”???? Thank dog I am a dog.
After reading Blouise’s further info and explanation, I do not think it is overreach. Unfortunately there needs to be an example to stop others from doing the same. This sould put the fear of…the police in the kids in Texas
I’m with Blouise.
“online impersonation”, according to the linked article, is analogous to “identity theft” except that it is not done for financial gain; thus it’s a lesser crime. Its a subset of the crime of theft. I think that gets lost i this argument. They stole her public person to harm her. That’s serious business. People, even children, should have as part of their privacy rights the right not to have their actual or public person abused.
I disagree completely that prosecuting this kind of crime is over prosecution. The only point to argue IMO is the sentence. I’d put a monitor on them and keep them at home/ at school for 6 months and take their computer/phone etc. away from them and charge the parents with monitoring that. They would also be posting, as their last social media postings, a mea culpa and public apology.
The teacher in me says, hold on, Texas, isn’t that over the top? I read Blouise’s response exposing more details, and I agree with her: these two girls were clearly bullying and need to take responsibility for their actions. The parent in me says, Texas, for once I agree: this could be my daughter and the lioness in me is without mercy.
Anti-bullying education starts at en early age in my school district and all the parents are brought into the campaign against it. I’m amazed how little it happens.
We established a separate juvenile justice system in the United States over 100 years ago. The focus is on the adolescent as a person in need of assistance and not on the act.
First, I would question whether the school actually had jurisdiction here. Was it performed on school grounds or using school computers?
On another note, I agree there would be a civil cause for action but I might agree it would constitute a felony offense; but would hope there would be some form of diversion in a juvy court. If an adult did this, well, charge them as indicated.
First I only know the facts presented here for this case. By opening the facebook account the actors assumed the identity of another person with the intent to obtain services unlawfully. I don’t subsribe to Facebook but I would imaging there is some form of contract in doing so. I would believe representing the victim’s identity would constitute a forgery or false swearing offense. Moreover, if using the assumed identity to threaten others again another crime. I don’t know if Texas has any criminal slander laws but certainly there would be a tort for this. Again, a diversion might be best.
I personally have handled a couple of cases like this but they involved adults doing essentially what was taking place in this example. Both cases presented some rather interesting jurisdictional issues but I closed both cases as “civil” because with these, the complainant had previously provided the accused with a password which effectively negated the computer trespass criminal case.
At least let’s give the prosecutor his due for keeping this in the juvenile system. Most DA’s would see possible felony charges and the headline-bait of trendy topics like social media and bullying and immediately charge them as adults (exposing them and their parents).
MacK 1, July 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Is this a federal or Texas law?
The newspaper article JT linked to indicates:
Texas has more people in prison, not because prisons are privatized and are big money, but because …
This is much more than “bullying”. Blouise has this right: “…consider the time and effort it took to build and maintain the page and the constant updating of “rude comments” about other children posted and then attributed to the victim. Nope, this was a concerted and dedicated effort to bring real harm to an innocent and definitely not a one-time prank. Let’s not forget that there was more than one victim here. All the children whose names were trashed on the page by these two girls were also victimized.”.
“There are no saints in college coaching ….”
You said a mouthful there. These guys are far from heroes. How about Dana Kirk?
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