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California Legislature

Violent felonies shown on Facebook Live could receive tougher sentences under a new California law

 (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images)
(Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images)

Violent incidents videotaped or streamed live on sites such as Facebook by attackers or accomplices could result in tougher punishment in California under a law signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assembly Bill 1542 provides that a judge will be able to consider additional penalties for anyone involved in a violent crime who “willfully recorded a video” while the attack was happening. But the new law doesn’t require a judge to hand down the tougher sentence, and applies only to the 23 existing crimes in California identified as “violent” felonies.

Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D-Woodland Hills), the proposal’s author, said that there have been an increasing number of attacks motivated by the ability to instantly share footage on social media.

“Our criminal code has simply not kept pace with technology-driven social media changes,” he said during an Assembly floor debate in May.

Dababneh said the bill was inspired by an attack last year on a San Fernando Valley teenager that was captured on video and shared on Snapchat. The teenager suffered a fractured skull in the incident.

AB 1542 had bipartisan support in the Legislature, and originally would have added an additional year of prison time for the videotaped crimes. Amendments taken during the legislative year leave the issue up to judges to consider as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

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