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Many of us communicate with our friends and loved ones in a manner that only the participants of this conversation can understand. Thus, if a text-based conversation between you and your friend, who committed suicide, gets into the wrong hands, it may lead to a conviction of involuntary manslaughter.
After all, what you and your friend perceive as jokes, quips, and sarcasm, a person who is not aware of the context of your conversation and the manner in which you communicate may perceive as an angry conversation between two people who hate each other.
Time and time again, people have faced serious criminal consequences for texting their friends or loved ones messages that seemed to encourage them to commit suicide. So can you go to prison for writing anything about suicide in your text-based conversation with a friend or loved one who committed suicide?
This is the question we asked our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Okabe & Haushalter. And here’s what he has to say about this.
To answer the question, let’s refer to California Penal Code Section 401. Under California law, you can be convicted of a crime for “assisting, advising or encouraging suicide.” However, in order for the prosecution to convict you of this crime, the prosecutor must have evidence of any of the following:
As you may have guessed by now, texting, voicemails, and emails can be used as evidence that you deliberately aided, advised or encouraged someone to take his or her own life. Our experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles warns that witness statements can also be used as evidence to prove that you encouraged someone to commit suicide.
Let’s review a couple of examples of how your texts or emails can encourage your friend or loved one to die by his or her own hand.
Now, if your texts get into the wrong hands in either of these two examples, you could be convicted of encouraging a suicide, which is a crime punishable by up to three years in California prison and fines of up to $10,000.
But do not worry, if you are represented by a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to avoid criminal charges by mounting any of the following defenses to “encouraging a suicide” charges:
Regardless of your situation, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California. After all, being accused of encouraging suicide is not a joke. Get a free consultation from our attorneys at Okabe & Haushalter by calling at 310-430-7799.