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High-Tech Burglars May Get Longer Sentences In Louisiana 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the mapquest-probation dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Burglars and terrorists should be careful not to use Google Maps if they plan on committing crimes in the state of Louisiana. Nola reports that a bill approved 89-0 by the Louisiana House will require that judges impose an additional minimum sentence of at least 10 years on terrorist acts if the crime is committed with the aid of an Internet-generated 'virtual map.' The bill, already approved by the Louisiana Senate, defines a 'virtual street-level map' as one that is available on the Internet and can generate the location or picture of a home or building by entering the address of the structure or an individual's name on a website. If the map is used in the commission of a crime like burglary, the bill calls for the addition of at least one year in jail (PDF) to be added to the burglary sentence. The House measure is now being sent back to the Senate for approval of clarifying amendments made by a House committee."
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High-Tech Burglars May Get Longer Sentences In Louisiana

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  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:10PM (#32379882) Homepage Journal

    What the hell difference does it make whether someone used Google maps?

    • by Itninja (937614)
      All I can think of is the use of Google Maps (or the like) shows overt premeditation. but even that reasoning is a bit shaky.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rene S. Hollan (1943)
        My thoughts exactly. Shaky, though? No, I think the word you seek is circumstantial.

        If I get caught with a map that shows the block where the house is that I robbed, it's not quite the same as if I have that, a less detailed map, with driving instructions on it, and a more detailed one with "X marks the spot" to be hit.

        • I'm genuinely baffled as to what reasoning could have been offered for this. "It's too easy if they use digital maps, so it's cheating"? To turn it around, if the criminal had to work harder to pick a house to burglarize he or she should get a discount on how much jail time he or she will have to serve?

          I'm with other commenters who are basically suggesting this is just a way of creating a "bonus crime" with which to arbitrarily keep people imprisoned longer, but obviously that's probably not how it was ac

          • whenever I hear people talk about how these things are fine because it means they can throw in extras charges when they catch someone I just wonder why they don't get it over with and just make some laws like
            10 years for wearing shoes in the commission of a crime,
            20 years for possession of keys while committing a crime.
            life for having eyebrows while committing a felony.

            • life for having eyebrows while committing a felony

              At least that'll make criminals easier to spot. And weird as fuck.

          • by meerling (1487879)
            Maybe it was an attempt to secure jobs for stupid ignorant hometown criminals that are being threatened with an influx of out-of-state tech savy criminals.
            You know, someplace with less inbreeding...

            I know there are intelligent non-inbred people in Louisiana, but I'm wondering if the people that pushed that bill were not among them... Oh wait, it was mostly politicians, not much to discus there.
          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            What idiot needs a map to burglarize a house?

            The closest thing to a "map" is the house with large hedge walls, overgrown grass, and a stack of newspapers on the front porch.

        • Don't buy the argument anyway.

          How many burglaries are not premeditated? "Oops, I just broke into the house, it was practically an accident, I don't know what came over me!" How would Google Maps prove premeditation? "Oops, I was using Google street view, and I suddenly saw this house I practically had to burgle!"

          Complete load of crap.

        • by Haeleth (414428)

          Clearly there is a difference of some sort, but why on earth should your method of planning make any difference to the sentence? The punishment should fit the crime, not the navigational aids used! And the crime is the same. Burglary is no less distressing for the victim if the burglar got lost three times on the way to the property, so handing out tougher sentences to burglars who used Google Maps is actually an insult to the victims of low-tech criminals.

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Paranatural (661514) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:22PM (#32380112)

        No shit. The only thing they want is to keep people in jail longer, without having to prove as much. Proving premeditation is hard, and just because you looked up someone's address doesn't automatically make it premeditation. This makes them 'hard on crime' that the conservatives down here get such hard dicks for. I hate my state sometimes.

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Itninja (937614) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:30PM (#32380274) Homepage

          Proving premeditation is hard, and just because you looked up someone's address doesn't automatically make it premeditation.

          It would be kind of hard to claim a robbery was a crime of opportunity (e.g. not premeditated) if the robber was found to have a map to the house, a picture of the front door, a satellite view of the surrounding neighborhood, and pictures of the inside (from Zillow, Redfin, etc.).

          • Why should it matter? Robbery is robbery whether or not you planned it out ahead of time or not. This bill is just going to encourage MORE crimes of opportunity.
          • Yes, because internet enabled smartphones are so rare these days, and it totally takes days to fire google maps up on a PC and get a printout.
          • It would be kind of hard to claim a robbery was a crime of opportunity (e.g. not premeditated) if the robber was found to have a map to the house, a picture of the front door, a satellite view of the surrounding neighborhood, and pictures of the inside (from Zillow, Redfin, etc.).

            Then why a special law for those circumstances? Premeditation is already something that boosts sentencing - if it is so easy to show premeditation then this new law is wasteful.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MstrFool (127346)

            While what you say sounds reasonable, it is not what they are talking about. If I have a detailed map and photos, plans and all sorts of other data on the home, I will get an automatic ten years /less/ then the person that decides to google the same place. They didn't say having a map is an extra ten years, they said that having an internet generated map is an extra ten years. I guess the figure any crook that still uses a paper map is so far behind the times that maybe they really do have to rob folks to l

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:14PM (#32379962) Journal
      Because you typically don't get voted out of office for being "tough on crime". Who wouldn't want "took bold action to protect your homes and families from the cyber-criminal menace" on their CV?
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ArchieBunker (132337) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:16PM (#32379994) Homepage

      Because it scares the old and technology illiterate people we call politicians. Half the supreme court doesn't know the difference between a pager and a cell phone.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

        by characterZer0 (138196) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:58PM (#32380798)

        Which one of them only half understands?

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          Poor Justice Scalia thinks a pager is a pocket alarm clock that he hasn't quite figured out yet.

      • by Protoslo (752870)
        In City of Ontario v. Quon, the oral arguments [supremecourt.gov] give no reason to believe that the justices don't know the difference between a pager and an email. They were just trying to determine if there was a difference in terms of expectation of privacy, and in terms of the police department's policy.

        The only techno-illiterate statement in there is when Justice Roberts says that he didn't know that his text messages went through intermediate companies, he thought they went directly to the recipient (just like Niko
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:16PM (#32380002)

      Well, arguably it demonstrates premeditation; in reality it's probably going to be used rather like existing "extras", to bump up the sentence when desired. For example, it's perfectly legal to carry a crowbar or screwdriver in public. Use one while burgling a house or stealing a car, and suddenly you have "going equipped" added to the charge list.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darinbob (1142669)
        There's been this trend for the last few decades of pulling all decision making for sentencing away from judges. Some people had become concerned that some judges are "soft on crime", "liberal", or other un-American adjectives. Rather than allow these pinko freedom-hating judges to actually do their jobs, laws were passed that tied their hands and set minimum sentencing rules (not merely guidelines). Since every right thinking person knows that longer sentences are a good thing as it keeps those ex-cons
        • by DavidTC (10147)

          If we want criminals to be sentenced longer, maybe we should actually raise the sentence for those crimes..

          The only 'add ons' should be behavior we actually want to discourage independent of the crime...for example, add a penalty to committing a burglary with a weapon. Burglary, in theory, involves interacting with no other person (Or it's robbery), so the weapon doesn't technically matter, but we'd like burglars to not have weapons in case they run into people so it doesn't turn violent. So it might make

          • Why don't we introduce Coventry?
            break the country into sections. If you are an undesirable, you go to a section. If that section finds you undesirable they can kick you down the chain, till you're in a lawless country.
            You can always sue for redress, or reinstatement of position to climb back up the ladder.
            -nB

            (yes, only slightly in jest, after all, Australia was formed this way.)

      • by Neoncow (802085)

        But don't we already have laws/processes that allow that sort of sentence scaling?

      • Well, arguably it demonstrates premeditation;

        So in other words its covered by existing laws, and doesnt need another retarded law to cover it?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      What the hell difference does it make whether someone used Google maps?

      I was wondering the same thing -- it's like it's more illegal to use publicly available information in the commission of a crime.

      Neither link seems to indicate why this is. It just strike me as a rather arbitrary law.

    • What the hell difference does it make whether someone used Google maps?

      Precisely, it's a hell of a difference. And another two years will a burglar get for using a plastic electric screwdriver instead of a good old proper wood-and-iron screwdriver. The you screw around, the more you get screwed.

    • by MrCrassic (994046)
      like others said, using a digital map is somewhat substantial evidence that the crime was premeditated. However, how is this any different from buying a map at the gas station and using that as a reference? If this statute includes other Internet-based applications like Facebook or Foursquare (possibly popular in New Orleans or Baton Rouge), how is targeting a person through those channels any worse than doing extensive, off-line research like criminals did in the "good old days?" I guess it makes amateur r
      • by DavidTC (10147)

        If they want to make premeditated burglary a crime with harsher penalties than opportunity burglary (Which, now that you mention it, I'm in favor of.), perhaps they should actually do that instead of fucking around with map possession.

      • by forkazoo (138186)

        like others said, using a digital map is somewhat substantial evidence that the crime was premeditated.

        Unless I print out a map to my buddies house, go to his party, get drunk, and drunkenly grab his neighbor's lawn gnome on my way home.

        It would be stupid of me. It would merit punishment for stealing a lawn gnome. But, why in the hell would it make sense for me to get a much harsher sentence than they guy in front of me who took a lawn gnome, but knew the area well enough that he didn't need to bring a ma

      • like others said, using a digital map is somewhat substantial evidence that the crime was premeditated.

        So make the punishment for premeditation tougher, and rely on existing laws. If you have a law that says "murder is illegal", you dont need another that says "intentionally decapitating someone is also illegal".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is primarily aimed at 'abuse' of street view to case neighborhoods. Use of overhead satellite imagery, while less effective is also targeted for similar reasons.

      SWIM's experiences with casing wealthy neighborhoods is that, especially considering his/her lack of inconspicuous clothing, skin colour, and/or vehicle (or whatever else is required to fit into said neighborhood), the casing can actually be more likely to generate calls to police/heat/residents with firearms than the actual robbery (the actual

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LordLimecat (1103839)

        decreasing attractiveness of this mode of robbery.

        Couple of questions...
        1) If you can demonstrate to the court sophistication, intent, and premeditation to the court, cant they just up the sentence based off of that?
        2) if using google maps shows premeditation, then why do we need another law to establish that it is, in fact, premeditation?
        3) Is the hopeful outcome that a criminal think "gee, I really wanted to rob that house, but man, that extra year from google maps is kind of harsh, I better not"? Is this realistic?

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      It doesn't.

      This is bad as tacking on time due to it being a 'hate' crime.

    • by Isaac-1 (233099)

      The point is not google maps, it is google street view, and satellite view to spot nice houses located in secluded areas and nice neighborhoods, as well as escape routes avoiding the major roads, etc. Do your scouting from home rather than take the chance of being spotted looking out of place in the gated community like areas. Think of the potential as the resolution on these technologies gets higher, is there a dog at the house, how tall is the fence in the back yard, exactly where is the nearest road, e

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:11PM (#32379908)

    I'm reminded of a Cypherpunks list discussion on this, except that criminals would get a charge of using/possessing cryptography while committing a crime.

    Will this deter crime via newer methods? Doubt it.

    Who actually profits from this: Same old people, defense lawyers, the private prison industry with a huge lobby behind it and the fact that anyone who stands in their way gets painted as soft on crime.

    • I don't buy that the prison industry conspiracy is to blame. It's the legislators that are idiotic enough to believe what the lobbyists are telling them, and too entrenched in politics to challenge senior lawmakers. I don't think my language is too strong here; nothing short of idiocy can describe the kind of new technology-related laws coming out of state legislatures. You'd think that a basic level of intelligence would be found among the most powerful people in the state.. I would genuinely rather have a

  • by Rene S. Hollan (1943) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:14PM (#32379954)
    The "high tech" map doesn't make the crime worse. It just serves as circumstantial evidence that it was premeditated. The harsher sentence should be imposed because the crime was planned, not because high tech was used.

    Here's why the proposed law is bad:

    1. It's way too specific. Why internet-generated maps? What about instructions to make burglary tools or improvised weapons?

    2. If the use of "high tech" makes the punishment worse, is that not a condemnation of "high tech" itself? That would be a bad thing.

    No, the thing that makes the crime worse is the premeditation, and the use of high-tech just offers evidence of this.

    • by jgagnon (1663075)

      I just want to know how the hell they intend to prove that someone used an online map. Unenforceable laws are a royal waste of public funds.

    • by MachineShedFred (621896) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:21PM (#32380082) Journal

      So, this means Criminals should just use a Rand-McNally book instead, and shave a year off their potential sentence. Good law.

    • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:27PM (#32380230) Journal

      They're trying to dumb down the internet... Next they'll charge Google with aiding and abetting, and make them remove the maps altogether..

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Trepidity (597)

        I think that's actually the sentiment that motivates them. Some people and politicians are worried about Google Street View being used to commit crimes, and since it's not clear there's any defensible way they could go after Street View itself, they hit on the other possibility: go after the people who use it to commit crimes. But of course, that leads to the nonsensical law we have here, where committing the same crimes without Street View is somehow better.

        My guess is the reasoning is: Street View makes i

      • by sponga (739683)

        You mean like the EU/UK....

    • by blair1q (305137) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:28PM (#32380236) Journal

      Er, burglary is always premeditated.

      There's no way to accidentally burgle someone's house, or do it in a fit of passion, or in self-defense.

      This law is no more or less a stupid abuse of legislative power than the classic example of passing a law saying that Pi is 3.0 instead of 3.14159...

      it's a clear demonstration that plural voting is no way to prove validity.

      • Up to no good Teen #1: "Hey! We're near John's house. He is gone for the weekend. Let's steal his bike."

        Up to no good Teen #2: "Yeah! Lets!"

        • by Darinbob (1142669)
          Commission of a crime while being a teenager, +1 year to the sentence. The sooner these up to no good teens stop being teens, the better!
      • by Darinbob (1142669)
        Yes, but what if the crime was pre-premeditated?
    • by dcollins (135727) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:33PM (#32380332) Homepage

      "The 'high tech' map doesn't make the crime worse. It just serves as circumstantial evidence that it was premeditated. The harsher sentence should be imposed because the crime was planned, not because high tech was used."

      "Premeditated" is an adjective only used when talking about murder, and used to distinguish different types of said act (as opposed to a crime of inflamed passion, for example). It is not used when talking about other types of crime.

      Seriously -- How do you perform burglary without planning it?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premeditated

      • So, we need to add premeditation as a qualifier to other crimes, or perhaps, more fitting would be the degree of premeditation.

        Deciding to rob a house one happens to come across with little security is a bit different than spending some time casing a joint, researching the security system, and using mapping software to plan a getaway route.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Actually, it doesn't provide any evidence at all that it was premeditated. It merely provides evidence that going to that particular location was premeditated, not that the person intended to commit a crime while there.

        • A dirtbag uses Google Maps to find a club because there's a party there. While at the party, he notices that they have a bunch of expensive electronics and have no security system. He waits until everyone has gone home, breaks in, steals stuff, and leaves
        • A dirtbag is in town visiting for
        • Right. The evidence of premeditation was circumstantial. The burden is to prove the map was obtained with the crime in mind. But, if it were, *BAM*, premeditation.

      • by DavidTC (10147)

        "Premeditated" is an adjective only used when talking about murder,

        Uh, no. It's an adjective that right now is used to distinguish two different crimes, but it's used all the time in the legal system when talking about other crimes.

        A lot of time evidence of a crime is actually evidence of premeditation, and used as evidence that you were planning to commit the crime, and hence it is likely you did commit the crime. (As you planning a crime and someone else committing it is unlikely.)

        If a bank was robbe

      • by westlake (615356)

        Premeditated" is an adjective only used when talking about murder

        Not strictly true.

        The usage is common enough in murder cases, of course.

        premeditated [google.com]

    • 1. It's way too specific. Why internet-generated maps? What about instructions to make burglary tools or improvised weapons?

      I seem to recall some concern raised somewhere about Google Streetview, the point being I suppose that it's a good way to scout the area, pick out an upscale house with poor security, etc. It may be an effort to deal with that without singling out Google.

      2. If the use of "high tech" makes the punishment worse, is that not a condemnation of "high tech" itself? That would be a bad thing.

      Well, I'm not saying it applies particularly well in this case, but in general "value of burglary = reward - (probably of being caught)*(punishment)" To deter crime you want 'value of burglary' to be zero or negative. Using high tech/clever solutions red

    • by jamesh (87723)

      Burglary checklist:
      . Lock pick
      . Hammer
      . Gloves
      . Sack with $ sign
      . Glass cutter
      . Dark clothing
      . Boot polish (to blacken face)
      . No Google Map (don't want it to look like we planned this)

  • Don't these idiots have other things to do? Something about an oil spill?

  • sounds like some old politicians finally got around to seeing the remake of the Italian job. When they saw the crews 'hacker' they wet themselves and decided Google maps was evil since it obviously shows real time traffic from web cams and allows your to manipulate stop lights.
    • ...seeing the remake of the Italian job.

      That's enough to make anyone a little cranky.

      • by MagicM (85041)

        They remade The Italian Job? WTF? That's a classic, man! Is there nothing sacred in this world anymore? I'm so tired of good movies being remade to squeeze out a little extra cash without needing to make up an original plot.

        Whatever. I wonder who they got to play Mark Wahlberg's part...

  • by Wiarumas (919682) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:27PM (#32380214)
    And another fifteen years tacked on if the criminal tweets about it.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:33PM (#32380334)

    We must not let ourselves be terrorized by these new masters of high technology! Further fines levied against kidnappers who make ransom demands by phone rather than letters cut and pasted together with words from magazines.

  • So that would indicate to me that Microsoft [microsoft.com] produces abetting [uslegal.com] technology. Shit, I can see in my own windows on a Bing bird's eye view w/Silverlight.

    This, to me, is the same as guys who put up these. [linkbase.org] Nah, providing the tools is ok, just don't actually use them right?

    Grand jury time!

  • I say add 20 years for the iPhone and 18 for the Android phones. Those extra 2 years the iPhone user gets will help pay for the remainder of their ATT contract.

    Hell we can make a grocery list:
    Laptop: 20 years.
    Smart phone: 15 years
    PDA: 5 years on probation and $200 gift certificate to buy a smart phone.
    iPad: iLIFE!

    If you've ever looked at 4chan add 7 years for bad behavior.

    I mean why stop at just one when we can tack on all kinds of useless, unconstitutional, soon to be struck down by the courts nonsense.

    • by jmcvetta (153563)

      I mean why stop at just one when we can tack on all kinds of useless,

      yes

      unconstitutional,

      quote possibly

      soon to be struck down by the courts

      alas, probably not.

      nonsense

  • EOM means end of message. Don't read this.
  • by fluor2 (242824) on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:05PM (#32382964)

    This has been the US way of thinking for ages. Yet you have more prisoners than any other countries.

    The US needs to do something about why people go for such drastic steps, becoming burglars or similar. You cannot continue having a society where some win the great price and become rich whilst the majority stay poor. You need a better structure for so many things that I cannot see where to start.

    The only great about the US now is the great minds that continue to immigrate from other countries. Yet for every great mind there is thousands of people growing up not even knowing anything except how to steal. It's time to wake up and try doing something about how peoples lives can get better in general.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You cannot continue having a society where some win the great price and become rich whilst the majority stay poor.

      While the divide between the classes is large, it's a joke to claim that the majority is poor. Most Americans are above the poverty line and live well. Very few people are actually "poor."

  • ... pick their victims at random and mug whoever is convenient.

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