The Criminal Protection Act
Let’s see how many “news” outlets or local talk radio shows pick up the gauntlet and run with this story.
Do you find it helpful when you visit Charleston Thug Life and discover your local criminals have been charged with thirty-four crimes in the past five years, yet the solicitor dismissed twenty-eight of those charges? Does it help you to understand just who isn’t doing the job they are being paid for? Do you feel better knowing you can view photos of your local criminals so you know who to avoid? Does that kind of information assist you in determining who you should and should not vote for to fill the position of solicitor? When you see that information does it explain just why crime is so rampant in our area?
Well, guess what! Your legislators are trying to make it more difficult to obtain and publish that information via a couple of amendments to South Carolina law, one of which was sponsored by your wonderful and intrepid Senator Paul Thurmond. Would any of you like to hazard a guess as to where he was once employed while waiting for the powers to be to bestow the Thurmond legacy of elected office upon him? We will give you a hint - it starts with 9th Circuit and ends with Solicitor’s Office. We have spoken with a few law enforcement professionals who have told us Thurmond was, at best, an inept prosecutor. Looks like he fit right in there.
We find it interesting there has been zero reporting on this by the “news” media. Even the Propaganda and Criminals, well known for screaming about alleged FOIA violations by local police departments, has failed to bring up this effort to infringe on their ability to report the news.
Thurmond’s bill, S-700, appears to be an attempt to harass sites like CTL and those mugshot papers with websites which are published weekly or monthly. They can also use this bill to go after the regular “news” people. We will explain in a bit. Please keep reading.
A bill to amend Section 17-1-40 of the S.C. Code of Laws was introduced on 15 May, 2013 and referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Here is the text of 17-1-40 as it now stands:
SECTION 17-1-40. Destruction of records where charges dismissed; fee; exception; promulgation of regulations.
(A) A person who after being charged with a criminal offense and the charge is discharged, proceedings against the person are dismissed, or the person is found not guilty of the charge, the arrest and booking record, files, mug shots, and fingerprints of the person must be destroyed and no evidence of the record pertaining to the charge may be retained by any municipal, county, or state law enforcement agency. Provided, however, that local and state detention and correctional facilities may retain booking records, identifying documentation and materials, and other institutional reports and files under seal, on all persons who have been processed, detained, or incarcerated, for a period not to exceed three years from the date of the expungement order to manage their statistical and professional information needs and, where necessary, to defend such facilities during litigation proceedings except when an action, complaint, or inquiry has been initiated. Information retained by a local or state detention or correctional facility as permitted under this section after an expungement order has been issued is not a public document and is exempt from disclosure. Such information only may be disclosed by judicial order, pursuant to a subpoena filed in a civil action, or as needed during litigation proceedings. A person who otherwise intentionally retains the arrest and booking record, files, mug shots, fingerprints, or any evidence of the record pertaining to a charge discharged or dismissed pursuant to this section is guilty of contempt of court.
(B) A municipal, county, or state agency may not collect a fee for the destruction of records pursuant to the provisions of this section.
(C) This section does not apply to a person who is charged with a violation of Title 50, Title 56, an enactment pursuant to the authority of counties and municipalities provided in Titles 4 and 5, or any other state criminal offense if the person is not fingerprinted for the violation.
(D) The State Law Enforcement Division is authorized to promulgate regulations that allow for the electronic transmission of information pursuant to this section.
Here is the proposed addition:
(E) A person or entity who publishes on the person or entity’s publicly available website a mug shot of a person who is arrested and booked in South Carolina is deemed to be transacting business in South Carolina. Within thirty days of the sending of a written request by a person described in subsection (A), including the person’s name, date of birth, date of arrest, and the name of the arresting law enforcement agency, such person or entity shall, without fee or compensation, remove from the person or entity’s website any mug shots of the person described in subsection (A). The written request must be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, to the registered agent, principal place of business, or primary residence of the person or entity who published the website. A person or entity who fails to remove the mug shot pursuant to this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both. Additionally, a person described in subsection (A) may file a civil cause of action against a person or entity who fails to remove a mug shot pursuant to this subsection.”
Now, we are no legal scholars, but it would seem this addition to the statute puts the onus of higher administration costs on the owners and publishers of certain papers and websites. Notice how the amendment calls any person or entity who puts up a mugshot on the internet a “business”. Interesting.
WCSC is a business. Heck, one could even argue the Propaganda and Criminals is a business. CTL is not a business - it is a hobby and a community service. Have any of you ever posted a mugshot to your Facebook, Twitter or personal blogs when a particularly heinous crime has been committed? Guess what - that makes you a business in the eyes of your legislators. Well, at least in the eyes of an idiot like Paul Thurmond. It also makes you subject to this proposed amendment. We suspect it won’t be long before they attempt to pass legislation to tax all of us on our “businesses”.
Let’s run a little scenario:
Tyronicus Criminalis Majoris gets locked up for armed robbery, kidnapping, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and attempted murder. CTL reports on the crime and puts up the mugshot taken on the day of arrest. Two weeks later the victim Tyronicus shot passes away. The charge of attempted murder is dismissed and a new charge of murder is levied against him. When the case goes to trial the 9th Circuit Solicitor, in usual fashion, drops the armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in exchange for a guilty plea by Tyronicus to the charge of voluntary manslaughter. Tehnically, Tyronicus wasn’t convicted of ANY of the charges against him at the time his mugshot was taken.
Tyronicus does his six months in prison for the manslaughter conviction. During those six months he spends his time posting his own mugshot to his Thugbook account from behind bars at Lee Correctional and talking about how he got over on the crackers and “fuck da poleece”. When he is released he petitions CTL, WCSC, WCBD, WCIV and the Propaganda and Criminals to have his mugshot removed from their sites and they MUST cede to his demand because he wasn’t convicted of any crime attached to that mugshot.
EDIT: The flaw in this legislation is that it only requires the mugshot be removed. All text referring to the charges is exempt. Want to guess what the next step is if this passes into law? Yep. Another law requiring every story about the charges to be removed as well.
Tyronicus can also track YOU down for posting that mugshot on your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Yep. The way we read the legislation it gives him the legal standing to send a subpoena to Facebook and Twitter, then to your internet provider so he can obtain your home address and serve you with papers. How cool is that?!?
The proposed amendment even makes YOU a criminal by default if you fail to remove the image. Oh, and let’s not forget - the amendment even gives Tyronicus the right to sue you. Isn’t that sweet of Senator Paul Thurmond? Always looking out for the little guy!
See what happens when you elect lawyers to the State House who are always looking for a way to make that 33-1/3 percent when their political career comes to an end?
Here is the rub - the next step in this chain is for criminal apologists (some of whom are sponsors of the bill below and some of whom gutted the bill calling for additional sentences for those criminals who commit additional crimes while out on bond) to submit legislation that will require removal from the public record of all those offenses the solicitor dropped for Tyronis Criminalis Majoris. When that happens we are also sure it will include a requirement for all sites like CTL and the “news” websites to remove every story that even mentions the charges, effectively ending the reporting of crime in our communities.
When that happens you will no longer be able to visit the public database and see the multitude of charges your local solicitor chose to dismiss. You will only see the charges for which Tyronicus pled guilty or was found guilty of by a jury. It will look like your solicitor has a 100% conviction rate. Your solicitor will look like the most efficient prosecutor in history. And it will all be a lie.
Think it can’t or won’t happen? Have you been paying attention to what is going on in this country? Hell, they are already going after BMW with the Justice Department and via civil suit for firing a bunch of criminals who initially slipped through their hiring background checks. Maintaining criminal records is “RACIST” don’t ya know.
Here is an idea. Why not call, write or email your legislators and tell them you want them to stop wasting time on bullshit like this and concentrate on important stuff - like nullifying Obamacare in South Carolina?
Now, let’s look at H 3184. This was sponsored by Rep. Tommy Pope (R) (Gained fame prosecuting Susan Smith), Rep. Mia S. McCleod (D), Rep. J. David Weeks (D), Rep. Jimmy C. Bales (D), Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D), Rep. Seth Whipper (D), Rep Walton McLeod (D), and Rep. Harold Mitchell.
How does an alleged Republican and supposed hardcore law and order prosecutor get hooked up with seven criminal apologist Democrats? Something fishy there.
Note: This section does not apply to Section 50 (Fish, Game, Watercraft) or Section 56 (Motor Vehicles) offenses or municipal or county ordinances. However, anyone charged under those sections who has the charge dismissed or is found not guilty has all record of the charge expunged from any internet based public record no later than thirty days after the disposition.
See, we told you it was coming. When there is no outcry from the public on this issue over the next year or two, these folks will introduce legislation that expands that little noticed provision to high misdemeanor and felony offenses.
This bill has been signed into law by the Governor as of 13 June, 2013.
Here is the summary of the amendment to Section 22-5-910:
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 22-5-910, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR EXPUNGEMENT OF A FIRST OFFENSE CRIME WHICH CARRIES A FINE OF ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS RATHER THAN FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS; TO AMEND SECTION 17-1-40, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE DESTRUCTION OF CRIMINAL RECORDS WHEN CHARGES ARE DISMISSED, SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR DESTRUCTION OF CRIMINAL RECORDS WHEN A COURTESY SUMMONS WAS ISSUED UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES AND TO REQUIRE REMOVAL OF ANY INTERNET-BASED PUBLIC RECORD OF A CHARGE THAT IS DISMISSED OR DISCHARGED NO LATER THAN THIRTY DAYS FROM THE DISPOSITION DATE. - ratified title
This particular law seems to deal mainly with the expungement of misdemeanor offenses and raises the monetary and time limits to include offenses with a fine of up to one thousand dollars and not more than thirty days in jail. We aren’t too concerned about this aspect because the law allows only one expungement per person under the statute.
We realize the desired result in this legislation is to help folks like the guy who was busted with a joint when he was seventeen or the girl who got bagged for shoplifting some earrings from Belks when she was in high school. One time offenders who find that minor record inhibits their life in some way. We do believe in second chances, just not the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, etc. our solicitors and judges believe in.
We have, however, been made aware of a possible conflict with the Criminal Domestic Violence statute, Section 16-25-20. First offense CDV is specifically included in the language of this amendment:
“Section 22-5-910. (A) Following a first offense conviction for a crime carrying a penalty of not more than thirty days imprisonment or a fine of
five hundred one thousand dollars, or both, the defendant after three years from the date of the conviction, including a conviction in magistrates or general sessions court, may apply, or cause someone acting on his behalf to apply, to the circuit court for an order expunging the records of the arrest and conviction. However, this section does not apply to:
(1) an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle;
(2) a violation of Title 50 or the regulations promulgated pursuant to Title 50 for which points are assessed, suspension provided for, or enhanced penalties for subsequent offenses are authorized; or
(3) an offense contained in Chapter 25, Title 16, except first offense criminal domestic violence as contained in Section 16-25-20, which may be expunged five years from the date of the conviction.
Here is the problem we have been made aware of. Penalties for CDV are cumulative - first offense, second offense, third offense, etc. When police officers arrest someone for CDV they have to check the criminal history of that person for prior offenses so they know how to properly charge the offender. Those criminal history checks go back ten years under Section 16-25-20:
(C) For the purposes of subsections (A) and (B), a conviction within the previous ten years for a violation of subsection (A), Section 16-25-65, or a criminal domestic violence offense in another state which includes similar elements to the provisions of subsection (A) or Section 16-25-65, constitutes a prior offense. A conviction for a violation of a criminal domestic violence offense in another state does not constitute a prior offense if the offense is committed against a person other than a “household member” as defined in Section 16-25-10.
Nothing like a bunch of criminal apologists in the legislature making it harder and more confusing for our police officers to do their jobs. If a person can have his first CDV conviction expunged after five years, what is the sense in having the CDV statute delineate ten years as the cut-off? Shouldn’t that statute have been amended as well?
Can you imagine an officer at the scene of a 2nd offense CDV telling a battered spouse this is the offender’s first offense and the spouse vehemently protesting that it isn’t because that spouse knows how many beatings the offender has been arrested for in the past? And who catches the heat for that little conflict? Certainly not any of the legislators mentioned above. Certainly not the Governor. It will be the police officer who bears the brunt of the ill will, ridicule and scorn of the victims. But hey, isn’t that what they get paid for?
A BIG thank you to the reader who brought these two issues to our attention. Keep up the good work! We would like the rest of you to link this post as often as possible. Spread it far and wide via Facebook, Twitter, your personal blogs, message boards, comment sections and anywhere else you can slip it in. The only way to stop this bullshit is to make it very public and make the legislators who sponsor it feel the heat.