Are You Legally Obligated To Report Crime Seen On Live Stream?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A deadly crash was livestreamed on Instagram by the driver. Police say a California woman was driving under the influence Friday with her 14-year-old sister when the car crashed. Her sister died on the scene and the woman is now behind bars.

“I hope that people take this as a lesson before it happens to them or their loved ones,” said Mary Hernandez, who shared the video on her Facebook page.

Hernandez was scrolling through Instagram on Saturday when she came across video. It shows 18-year-old Obduila Sanchez live streaming herself, driving and singing behind the wheel. Suddenly, the car rolled over and crashed into a barbed wire fence. Her 14-year old sister Jacqueline was ejected from the car and died at the scene.

“It was hard to believe that it was real at first,” Hernandez told CBS 13. “How she acted- she didn’t even care that her sister was dying. She just wanted to record!”

Hernandez saw the video hours after the live stream and shared it on her Facebook page.

“I hope that people learn to not be on your phone because obviously, that’s what could happen,” she said.

She told CBS 13 she didn’t call the police because the video had already been seen several times.

“I didn’t want to get involved because I didn’t know them personally,” Hernandez explained.

So we asked Attorney Jeff Kravitz if a person is obligated to report a crime they see on video or even in person.

“For the average person walking down the street, you have no duty to either report or lend assistance,” Kravitz said.

Only a handful of states, including California, have specific laws compelling a witness to come forward. California Penal Code Section 152.3 requires “Any person who reasonably believes that he or she has observed the commission of any of the following offenses, where the victim is a child under the age of 14 years, shall notify a peace officer.”

Those offenses include murder, rape or other lewd acts. But Kravitz says it’s never been prosecuted in the state of California.

“It’s very difficult to criminalize actions that people take that are omissions as opposed to commissions,” he said. “It’s the serious attempt to legislate morality and it’s difficult to do.”

And if the victim is an adult, state law doesn’t require you to do anything.

In this case, Kravitz does not believe that a person viewing the livestream is obligated to report it.

More from Macy Jenkins
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