HB 147: Criminalizing the Recording of a Crime
HB 147 creates a new crime: distributing a recording of a crime. If enacted, the bill would make it a Class B misdemeanor to record a crime and share that recording if the person making the recording knows the victim of the crime needs help and fails to summon law enforcement.
When criminalizing new behavior, we should always proceed with caution. While the idea of someone standing by, phone in hand, recording an assault to boost their social media views rather than calling 911 is certainly distasteful, should it be criminal? Many behaviors like cheating on a spouse, flipping the bird at a driver, or laughing at someone who falls down a flight of stairs rather than helping them up are morally reprehensible. But it doesn’t follow that there should be a criminal penalty attached.
An act should only be criminalized if it infringes on someone’s rights to life, liberty, and property. One must also weigh the costs and benefits: It takes resources to detect, prevent, and prosecute crime. If a new crime is created, more resources must be added or diverted from other enforcement activities. Are the benefits to be gained worth it?
In this case, we think not.