Shasta County Deputy District Attorney Josh Brown and Investigator Joe Scarry came to Mountain View High School in Burney on Wednesday morning November 14 to give a slide presentation on numerous issues such as cyber security, identity theft, sexting, cyber bullying, child pornography, stealing, and sex with minors. About two dozen students and teachers from Mt. View and Soldier Mountain High Schools and Burney and Fall River Community Day Schools were present for the presentation.
When asked “What does the District Attorney do?” Deputy Brown explained that he prosecutes crimes, determines what crimes have been committed, and sends cases to court.
As he showed the slides, Deputy Brown asked questions and engaged the students in discussion. Brown explained various laws and their application and students openly and honestly expressed their experiences and opinions.
The group discussed a person’s “Digital Footprint.” Anyone who uses the internet, posts on social media, makes online purchases, or opens an account creates an online record. This digital footprint can be used by cyber predators with a negative agenda.
Investigator Scarry stated, “Once you post something, you lose control. The risk of identification theft grows higher, the more online accounts one has.”
Talking about privacy, Brown emphasized that even if a person’s Facebook or Instagram account is marked private, once a person’s friends have access to information they can make it public.
Negative aspects of sexting (sharing sexually explicit messages) can have negative and embarrassing consequences well into the future affecting peoples employment and other relationships. Examples include not being able to own a gun, fewer job opportunities, and if you are an adult, you will have to register as a sex offender, if convicted. Sexting with a minor is considered child pornography.
Minors who sext between other minors is a growing problem, because not only does this put adolescents at risk for social ridicule and cyber-bullying, but it opens up ways for sexual predators to victimize young people.
Possession of child pornography is a felony. Brown advised people that if they received unsolicited child pornography they should report it to local law enforcement.
Sexual relations between an adult and a minor was also addressed. It is a crime. The adult is responsible even if the minor misrepresents their age. The law is designed to protect minors and hold adults accountable for knowing the age of their partners.
In a lively exchange on theft, Brown emphasized that stealing another person’s property is never all right. Several students made the point that if people were careless or irresponsible with their property they were also partly “at fault.” Brown responded that the carelessness of a victim does not excuse theft. For example, it is not all right or legal to take something from a car if they left the door unlocked or to take something that somebody accidentally left behind when they left a room.
Investigator Scarry told the students that his job was to thoroughly investigate each incident to determine the truth. If a crime was committed, investigation might determine that charges were warranted or exculpatory evidence might emerge which would tend to clear an accused person of a charge of fault or guilt.
Brown explained that prosecutors need to decide what cases to prosecute. Generally, a prosecutor will not charge a person unless they feel that they have a strong enough case to convince a jury that the person is guilty.