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Cell phone trouble

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader


According to the Pew Research Centerís Internet & Family Life Project, 91% of U.S. adults have a cell phone. Over 66% from that same group own a smart phone. Cell phones create many new ways for people to find legal trouble and to become victims. Cell phones can also help report and solve crimes.

With our phones, we can search the Internet, play games, listen to music, watch a movie, listen to or read a book, send a text message or email, take photos or videos, check our calendars and even speak with someone. Thereís a bunch more we can do with our phones but you get the point.

Cell phones, however, provide opportunities for some to engage in criminal activities like distracted driving, cyber bullying, cyber stalking, underage sexting, sextortion, revenge porn, possession/production/dissemination of child pornography and identity theft. These types of activities are illegal and, in some instances, can result in lengthy prison sentences and lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Unlike regular phones, smart phones are around most people throughout the day and night. This increases the opportunities for people to misuse their cell phones, such as when they are intoxicated or angry. Sending harassing messages or sexually explicit photographs are common ways for people to get in trouble. A surprising number of couples use cell phones to capture some of their more intimate moments. Problems start once the relationship ends and the boyfriend, for example, threatens to send the photographs to the ex-girlfriendís employer or friends. Teenagers who photograph themselves or others in states of nudity usually donít think much about the consequences. They definitely donít think they could be committing felony sex offenses by doing so.

Distracted driving is another problem area for cell phone users. Many states and jurisdictions prohibit a driver from talking on a hand-held phone. It is illegal for Indiana drivers to send any electronic messages while driving and for any driver under the age of 21 to use a phone for any purpose. We all know the dangers associated with texting while driving, but many accidents and traffic stops result from drivers reaching for their phones or trying to charge a dead phone.

Quite a few domestic battery cases stem from arguments over objectionable texts, posts or photos found on a cell phone. Cell phones can be a source of battery charges with people using the actual phone to batter others. Cell phones are also stolen frequently and can lead to the misuse of personal information.

Since almost everyone has a cell phone, more crimes get reported and they are reported quicker. Witnesses to crimes use their cell phones to take photos of suspects or cars or license plates. This type of evidence can assist law enforcement with resolving investigations.

Cell phones are great. In some ways, they are like cars. They make our lives a lot easier but can also be really dangerous.


Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.