What would you do to protect your child?
That question, no doubt, crossed the mind of Virginia parent Sarah Sims. Her daughter was being bullied by other children at school. Sims contacted the school, located in Norfolk, but never got a response.
Afraid that her child was possibly being bullied by her teacher as well, and frustrated by the school’s inaction, Sims decided to take the problem into her own hands. She sent her daughter to school with a voice recorder in her backpack, hoping to get evidence—and then justice—for her daughter.
But something else happened… Sarah Sims ended up being charged with a felony!
When Laws Lack Common Sense
According to CNN, the Virginia mother faces a felony charge of intercepting wire, electronic, or oral communications. If that wasn’t enough, she’s also being charged with a misdemeanor for contributing to the delinquency of a minor—meaning she’s being charged for “forcing” her daughter to break the law.
So, which law is this?
US Code 2511. It is illegal to record someone (with video, telephone, or other recording device) without the full knowledge and permission from the person being recorded. Plus, intentionally disclosing (or intending to disclose) information in a recording that was NOT permitted by the recordee is also illegal. (We’d like to note that recording consent laws do vary at a state level, however—California is a one-party consent state.)
Delinquency of a minor usually falls under abandonment and neglect of children laws. Just look at California Penal Code 272: “Every person who commits any act or omits the performance of any duty” which “tends to cause or encourage” any person under the age of 18 years to commit a crime is subject to consequences, including a fine and/or imprisonment.
Will the Charge Hold Up in Court?
According to WAVY, Sims could be facing up to five years in prison if convicted. Morally, this leaves a sour taste in our mouth. That mother was just trying to act, doing what the school wouldn’t. Maybe she could have taken another route, but parents can sympathize.
Legally, where does she stand? Well, the charges seem a little outlandish—the school could have solved this differently. It will be interesting to see what the judge thinks and how her lawyer will defend her, because in strange cases like this, a skilled lawyer can make all the difference.
If you were arrested for a felony crime in Orange County (that you had no idea was a felony!), you’ll need an experienced and dedicated attorney, like the ones at the Law Office of Michael L. Gusti. Call us toll-free at (888) 478-8999 for legal help today.