Posting Of Fight Video At School On Social Media Gets Mother Arrested.

Maegan Adkins Barras

A 32 year old mother in Lafayette, Louisiana spent the night in jail after posting a video of a fight at her son’s school.

Maegan Adkins-Barras was charged with the crime of “unlawful posting of criminal activity for notoriety and publicity” when she posted a video fight her son filmed at the Acadiana High School in Lafayette to Facebook.

The problem is that the charges don’t seem to fit the incident.

107.4. Unlawful posting of criminal activity for notoriety and publicity

A. It shall be unlawful for a person who is either a principal or accessory to a crime to obtain an image of the commission of the crime using any camera, videotape, photo-optical, photo-electric, or any other image recording device and to transfer that image obtained during the commission of the crime by the use of a computer online service, Internet service, or any other means of electronic communication, including but not limited to a local bulletin board service, Internet chat room, electronic mail, or online messaging service for the purpose of gaining notoriety, publicity, or the attention of the public. (emphasis ours)

The law requires that the person doing the posting be “principal or accessory to a crime.”

The two students in the fight were charged – one with disturbing the peace by fighting, the other with second-degree battery.

Adkins-Barras got the video from her son, so she is not a “principal or accessory to a crime” in this case. The son wasn’t involved in the fight, so he is not a “principal or accessory to a crime” in this case either.

The law itself had its origins in what we consider to be rather bizarre behavior:

In 2008, State Representative Barbara Norton was faced with a unique problem.

People in the Shreveport area were recording themselves or someone else committing a crime and posting it online.

This led her to push for new legislation.

Senator Fred Mills was a state rep at the time and was one of 38 co-authors backing Rep. Norton’s bill.

“There was no way for a district attorney to prosecute the case because the law was absolutely silent,” Sen. Mills said.

The bill made the act of posting the illegal activity to social media a crime punishable by six months in jail or a $500 fine.

During the 2008 regular session, Rep. Norton said, “Making sure that we prevent people from committing a battery on someone and then taking that tape and putting it on YouTube so they can get notoriety” was the purpose of the bill.

“Hey look at me! I am robbing a store and going to post it online!”

Doesn’t make much sense to us to do that, but that appears to be the world in which we live.

The Chief of Police who filed the charges in this case has essentially said “let people sue us if they think we are wrong.”

Once again, nice to know that a government member realizes that if a lawsuit is filed, he won’t be paying the costs to defend it or any judgement being awarded if (when) they lose.

However, the arrest in this case got us to thinking……

Imagine an incident where a person films an off duty police officer being stopped for driving under the influence. A citizen films the stop. Can the police then arrest that person if the encounter is put on Twitter?

Or the mayor of a town and City Council members getting into a fist fight (it happens.) Can people in the audience film that fight? If the City itself is filming it, can the person running the cameras be arrested if the meeting gets posted on Facebook?

Or how about a police officer who is beating on a handcuffed person. Clearly illegal, but if a citizen films it, can they be arrested if they post the encounter to social media?

Still, none of that helps the mother who now has an arrest record and must pay for her defense for a charge that doesn’t even fit the law.

One Response to “Posting Of Fight Video At School On Social Media Gets Mother Arrested.”

  1. Percy Veer says:

    If you’re dumb enough to post a video of yourself committing a crime on YouTube (etc.) you should be arrested. Not for posting the video, but for committing a crime. Seems like this law is trying to make the act of posting the images a secondary criminal offense which just doesn’t seem right, whether you’re the perp or just a bystander. As you point out the real crime, in my opinion, is that government officials can pretty much make any charges they like without financial consequences and the person arrested gets stuck paying his/her own legal fees to defend themselves. Maybe a law that holds government liable for all legal fees if the person is found innocent would make prosecutors think twice before making frivolous charges.