Cell Phone = Computer in Sentencing Sex Offender

Posted February 11, 2011 in Criminal Law by Arthur Buono

A sex offender who used his cell phone to lure his underage victim had two+ years tacked onto his sentence for using a "computer" to facilitate his crime. It’s the first time a federal court has said a cell phone meets the definition of a computer under federal sentencing guidelines.

  • After 20 years +/-, court decides a cell phone is a "computer"
  • Using it to lure a child for sex will increase punishment for the crime
  • Other sentences could be enhanced, other devices might qualify
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More Sentences Could Be Enhanced

The sentence for transporting a minor to engage in prohibited conduct can be lengthened if the defendant uses a computer to facilitate the crime. This predator called and texted his victim from his cell phone. The guidelines define a computer by reference to the unrelated crime of fraud and related activity in connection with computers.

You can tell it’s an old definition because it excludes word processors and hand held calculators. Since cell phones have been around for a couple of decades, it makes you wonder why prosecutors haven’t tried this before. This can’t be the first time a predator has lured a child using a cell phone.

If a cell phone is a computer, so are smart phones and tablets. We can’t live without these devices. They help us lead more productive lives. They cause us great harm and embarrassment when used foolishly. Now they’ll earn you a couple extra stripes if you commit certain crimes with them.

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