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Louisiana teens face felony cyberstalking charges

Teenagers in Louisiana are like teenagers anywhere else-they often experiment and act without thinking. Sometimes, their decisions can land them in serious legal trouble. Two 17-year-old girls in Baker, Louisiana are accused of stalking and threatening to kill another girl through Twitter, a social networking website. The frightening behavior allegedly started two years ago, which forced the alleged victim to transfer to another school.

The alleged victim, with the help of her grandmother, acquired images of the Twitter messages on the victim's cell phone. The two accused teenagers, who were once friends with the victim, allegedly sent the messages. The relationship among the three girls ended after the boyfriend of one of the defendants expressed an interest in the victim. The recurring online threats allegedly continued even after the victim had already transferred to another school. Subsequently, the two accused teenagers started to focus their threats on the younger sister of the victim.

Police arrested the two teenagers and charged them with cyberstalking, a felony. One of the teenagers, whose bond was set at $7,500, also faces a simple assault charge. Felonies, such as cyberstalking, carry serious consequences. If the teens are tried as adults and convicted, the teenagers may have to pay a fine of $2,000, spend a year in jail or both. For a repeat offense, the verdict may include a maximum fine of $5,000 and a jail sentence anywhere from 180 days to 3 years. Additionally, the personal possessions that were used to commit the felony can be seized and if the accused is found guilty, those properties can be sold at auction.

In any case in which juveniles are accused of a serious crime, the first job of defense counsel is to make every effort to keep the case in juvenile court, where it belongs, and fight any attempt by the state to certify the child for prosecution as an adult. If the case stays in juvenile court, the teen will have a chance to rehabilitate themselves and their youthful mistakes need not haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Source: KETK, "Teens arrested for cyberstalking after threatening violence against juvenile on Twitter," Samantha Morgan, Sep. 30, 2013

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