Judge: Trolling someone's Facebook account is identity theft

According to a judge in California, identity theft no longer includes just stealing personal information, it now includes acting like that person online. Rolando S., a juvenile decided to use a password he received via text message to access the email account of S.W. (female victim).

He then used the email account to access Facebook and post obscene messages about the victim on two pages of male friends and altered the Facebook profile of the victim. According to court documents filed in the Fifth Appellate District Court of Appeals , the profile was altered to read the following:

Hey, Face Bookers, [sic] I’m [S.], a junior in high school and college, 17 years young, I want to be a pediatrician but I’m not sure where I want to go to college yet. I have high standards for myself and plan to meet them all. I love to suck [expletive].

Rolando was ordered to be committed to the Kings County Juvenile Academy Alpha Program for 90 days to a year. In addition, he was put on probation. The court has maintained that he violated section 530.55 , which is the identity theft statute and applies to those who:

Willfully obtain personal identifying information and use that information for any unlawful purpose, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, real property, or medical information.

What makes this different from elsewhere in the US is that California has added a e-personation statute, which not all states have. The judge said that since there was no requirement to access the password under the new statute, the law was too vague . The defendant admitted that he intended the posts to "be a joke." However, it seems that now the appeals court has denied his appeal, leaving him with a felony conviction. Looks like the joke is on him.

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29 Comments

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Completely stupid. This poor kids life will undoubtedly suffer because this girl couldn't take a joke.
There is no lasting damage, no-one was harmed (emotional distress takes a bit more than a couple of rude sentences).
Someone should slap the girl, her parents, her lawyer and the judge for wasting everyone's time and money. Oh and then put her on a course about safety on the internet and how to take care of her password.

Derges said,
Completely stupid. This poor kids life will undoubtedly suffer because this girl couldn't take a joke.
There is no lasting damage, no-one was harmed (emotional distress takes a bit more than a couple of rude sentences).
Someone should slap the girl, her parents, her lawyer and the judge for wasting everyone's time and money. Oh and then put her on a course about safety on the internet and how to take care of her password.

Read the post above about his other prior offenses and don't talk until you know what was posted.

wrong wrong wrong! i have seen a million times a parent or a child who happened to log on to facebook telling everyone how wonderful their parent p/child is to the world. i have seen this just as many times with friends as well. we are a world of degenerates i guess.

Judge: The verdict is Guilty! So you're a joker eh? Well I have a joke for you, I'd like you to meet bubba. Your assigned cell is the one with the picture of a of a meta screw on it.

This is ridiculous. My friends do this all the time as a joke, ex: "So I've been thinking, and I finally decided I'm gay!"

I've seen plenty of ppl's accounts "hacked" by a friend who left their computer on at another friend's house. if you seriously care about your FB reputation so much that you cant take a joke and have to go to court over it, you need some mental help.

andrewbares said,
This is ridiculous. My friends do this all the time as a joke, ex: "So I've been thinking, and I finally decided I'm gay!"

I've seen plenty of ppl's accounts "hacked" by a friend who left their computer on at another friend's house. if you seriously care about your FB reputation so much that you cant take a joke and have to go to court over it, you need some mental help.

Keyword: Friends - not some arsewipe looking to harass you. Read page 6 and 7 of the filing and tell me if you want this guy around any female member of your family.

I guess this will pave the way for new/improved legislation, etc. but I suppose that other people will think twice before doing something along the same lines!

Can't it be something else? Like community service, and if you do it AGAIN, then it'll be a felony. I mean jumping straight to felony when nothing like this has ever happened before seems like too much.

Holy ****. That's an extremely serious charge. And by serious, I'm referring to the "Felony conviction". Most employers won't bother to check out the details.

That being said, I'm glad the court is acting on it, though.

"Looks like the joke is on him."

Yes, he will suffer for it greatly and disproportionally, and so will the country. Disproportionate punishments cause massive economic damage on large scales because they directly stop people from finding jobs and having futures. That guy just got a one-way ticket to a possibility of higher rates of drug/alcohol abuse and poverty, all because of a simple Facebook joke that he pulled. That was a joke. That judge must be out of his mind if he thinks this is an isolated incident. This happens -all the time-.

There is a massive distinction between identity theft and accessing someone's Facebook and throwing in some vulgars. This punishment simply is not fitting of the crime.

OuchOfDeath said,
That guy just got a one-way ticket to a possibility of higher rates of drug/alcohol abuse and poverty, all because of a simple Facebook joke that he pulled.

My first reaction was that someone who pulls a joke like this already is likely to become poor and abuse drugs and alcohol. He doesn't need a felony conviction to help him out.

Then I looked at the court documents linked here:

"At the disposition hearing, the juvenile court denied appellant's motion to reduce the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor, without prejudice. The court noted its concern with the short time span between this offense and the disposition of a prior offense -- assault with a deadly weapon (a car), where appellant had driven his car at three girls with the intent of scaring them. "

"The victim's father testified the victim's Facebook password was being changed dozens of times over several weeks and it was only after they deleted her email account that they were able to regain control over her Facebook account. "

Yup. I was right. This guy also thinks driving cars into people is funny, and that its okay to delete people's e-mail accounts. I'm not going to comment on the law in general, just this guy in particular. He needed some sense knocked into him. Whatever could accomplish that (if this does accomplish it) is more likely to help his life than hurt it.

brianshapiro said,

My first reaction was that someone who pulls a joke like this already is likely to become poor and abuse drugs and alcohol. He doesn't need a felony conviction to help him out.

Then I looked at the court documents linked here:

"At the disposition hearing, the juvenile court denied appellant's motion to reduce the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor, without prejudice. The court noted its concern with the short time span between this offense and the disposition of a prior offense -- assault with a deadly weapon (a car), where appellant had driven his car at three girls with the intent of scaring them. "

"The victim's father testified the victim's Facebook password was being changed dozens of times over several weeks and it was only after they deleted her email account that they were able to regain control over her Facebook account. "

Yup. I was right. This guy also thinks driving cars into people is funny, and that its okay to delete people's e-mail accounts. I'm not going to comment on the law in general, just this guy in particular. He needed some sense knocked into him. Whatever could accomplish that (if this does accomplish it) is more likely to help his life than hurt it.

So because somebody has a different sense of humour to you, that means they're likely to abuse drugs and alcohol? And I guess the fact that this one guy actually committed a serious offence alongside this one proves you were right?

Your post is ridiculous. The majority of people who post messages using their friend's Facebook accounts do it for a joke, not because they're some kind of unstoppable one man crimewave.

Hardcore Til I Die said,

So because somebody has a different sense of humour to you, that means they're likely to abuse drugs and alcohol? And I guess the fact that this one guy actually committed a serious offence alongside this one proves you were right?

Your post is ridiculous. The majority of people who post messages using their friend's Facebook accounts do it for a joke, not because they're some kind of unstoppable one man crimewave.

I would hazard a guess that he wasn't doing it in friendly joking fun, but instead he did it maliciously to cause emotional distress, because thats what he gets enjoyment from - people suffering.

rob.derosa said,

I would hazard a guess that he wasn't doing it in friendly joking fun, but instead he did it maliciously to cause emotional distress, because thats what he gets enjoyment from - people suffering.

You're [u]guessing[/u] he was doing it cause to emotional distress, but imo you should have to prove that beyond all reasonable doubt before charging someone with identity theft. If it appears to be a joke, the person really shouldn't be charged with anything if they had no malicious intent.

Hardcore Til I Die said,

You're [u]guessing[/u] he was doing it cause to emotional distress, but imo you should have to prove that beyond all reasonable doubt before charging someone with identity theft. If it appears to be a joke, the person really shouldn't be charged with anything if they had no malicious intent.

The motive does not matter in this case; the crime was committed when he illegally gained access (according to CA law) to her Facebook account. The victim in this case had every right to pursue the matter through the court system.

Oh, and I thought it was pointed out earlier that different people have different ideas of what would be classified as a joke!

rob.derosa said,

The motive does not matter in this case; the crime was committed when he illegally gained access (according to CA law) to her Facebook account. The victim in this case had every right to pursue the matter through the court system.

I'm not saying the so called victim had no right to pursue the matter; the law is the law. I'm just saying the law is stupid in this case

Hardcore Til I Die said,

I'm not saying the so called victim had no right to pursue the matter; the law is the law. I'm just saying the law is stupid in this case

So the law should be: 'identity theft is a crime, apart from when certain people find it funny'?

rob.derosa said,

So the law should be: 'identity theft is a crime, apart from when certain people find it funny'?

It shouldn't be classed as identity theft because the very definition of theft is that you intend to permanently deprive somebody of something that belongs to them.

Logging into someone's Facebook account is not permanently depriving them of it.

Hardcore Til I Die said,

It shouldn't be classed as identity theft because the very definition of theft is that you intend to permanently deprive somebody of something that belongs to them.

Logging into someone's Facebook account is not permanently depriving them of it.

The legal definition of theft does not necessitate a minimum period of time required before the act becomes a crime, so long as the intent was nefarious. It's like saying I could take you car for a joyride for a few days, but I am not guilty of a crime because I had always meant to give it back on the fourth day.

rob.derosa said,

The legal definition of theft does not necessitate a minimum period of time required before the act becomes a crime, so long as the intent was nefarious. It's like saying I could take you car for a joyride for a few days, but I am not guilty of a crime because I had always meant to give it back on the fourth day.

"The basic definition of theft is defined in section 1(1) of the Act.
The Act states that
A person shall be guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it."

This is English Law.. may be different in America

Source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theft_Act_1968

If you don't trust Wikipedia, look on the government legislation website - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/...heading/definition-of-theft

Of course, in your example you'd have to prove that you had the intention of giving back the car which would be no easy feat. There has been another charge introduced in English Law for this very reason - TWOC - Taking a motor vehicle Without the Owner's Consent.

Hardcore Til I Die said,

"The basic definition of theft is defined in section 1(1) of the Act.
The Act states that
A person shall be guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it."

This is English Law.. may be different in America

Source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theft_Act_1968

If you don't trust Wikipedia, look on the government legislation website - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/...heading/definition-of-theft

Of course, in your example you'd have to prove that you had the intention of giving back the car which would be no easy feat. There has been another charge introduced in English Law for this very reason - TWOC - Taking a motor vehicle Without the Owner's Consent.

Firstly this is CA law, not English.. but anyway

Section (6)(1) states:

"A person appropriating property belonging to another without meaning the other permanently to lose the thing itself is nevertheless to be regarded as having the intention of permanently depriving the other of it if his intention is to treat the thing as his own to dispose of regardless of the other's rights"

And I believe the defendant in this case did treat the thing as his own to dispose of regardless of the others rights. This section was used in Regina Vs Lloyd (1985) where it was argued that for a crime to fall under s (6)(1)

"...there should be intention ‘to return the “thing” in such a changed state that it can truly be said all its goodness or virtue is gone'"

Which is definitely what happened to her Facebook profile!


Hardcore Til I Die said,

Your post is ridiculous. The majority of people who post messages using their friend's Facebook accounts do it for a joke, not because they're some kind of unstoppable one man crimewave.

He didn't just make a harmless post on her account. He posted on her account that she loves to suck c*ck. How do not you know that's not appropriate? Her family might be seeing that.

Hardcore Til I Die said,
So because somebody has a different sense of humour to you, that means they're likely to abuse drugs and alcohol? And I guess the fact that this one guy actually committed a serious offence alongside this one proves you were right?

Someone who thinks breaking into people's accounts is okay + someone who thinks posting sexually inappropriate comments on someone's public account = someone with really really bad judgment. (Driving a car into someone to scare them, just more proof of bad judgment). Doing alcohol and drugs = bad judgment. This isn't just about "a different sense of humor".

brianshapiro said,

My first reaction was that someone who pulls a joke like this already is likely to become poor and abuse drugs and alcohol. He doesn't need a felony conviction to help him out.

Then I looked at the court documents linked here:

"At the disposition hearing, the juvenile court denied appellant's motion to reduce the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor, without prejudice. The court noted its concern with the short time span between this offense and the disposition of a prior offense -- assault with a deadly weapon (a car), where appellant had driven his car at three girls with the intent of scaring them. "

"The victim's father testified the victim's Facebook password was being changed dozens of times over several weeks and it was only after they deleted her email account that they were able to regain control over her Facebook account. "

Yup. I was right. This guy also thinks driving cars into people is funny, and that its okay to delete people's e-mail accounts. I'm not going to comment on the law in general, just this guy in particular. He needed some sense knocked into him. Whatever could accomplish that (if this does accomplish it) is more likely to help his life than hurt it.