Yes, There’s Such a Thing as A Rad, Bitchin’ Illegal Selfie
In New York City, the pursuit of the selfie has gone to extreme proportions—and to new heights. Yes, there is such a thing as an illegal selfie.
A recent and frequent target of an illegal selfie has been the Brooklyn Bridge. However the pedestrian path of the Brooklyn Bridge has not sufficed for tourists and residents of New York City. Other illegal selfie takers have been arrested on the Williamsburg Bridge and One World Trade Center.
Spurred on by the goal of the ultimate pic to be upload on social media channels like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, people are climbing to literal new heights in New York City. The problem is that climbing on bridge spans or other areas that are not open to the public for an illegal selfie may lead to criminal charges like Reckless Endangerment and Criminal Trespass.
By entering an area that is not open to the public like a bridge span or roof a person may be subject to the charge of trespass. In New York, Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree is charged when a person knowingly enters or unlawfully remains in a building or upon real property that is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders. The crime is a class B misdemeanor and is punished by up to 90 days in jail.
In addition, the pursuit of the illegal selfie could lead to the more serious charge of Reckless Endangerment. In New York, Reckless Engagement is a serious crime that may be charged as a misdemeanor of felony. The two degrees that apply to illegal selfies are Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree and Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree. The Second Degree crime, which is a class A misdemeanor and punished by up to 1 year in jail, is defined as recklessly engaging in conduct that creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.
Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree, which is possible but unlikely to be charged where an illegal selfie is concerned, involves circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, a person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person. Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree is a class D felony, carrying a prison sentence of up to 7 years.
The NYPD and prosecutors tend to take an aggressive position when it comes to charges related to an illegal selfie. The first is due to the nature of the locations where illegal selfie are taken. The structures, whether the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, or other iconic locations are thought to be targets for terrorist attacks. The second reason involves discouraging others from acting similarly, in other words, deterrence. By its very nature an illegal selfie taken atop an iconic location is viral.
While the facts of each case are different, if a person is arrested for an illegal selfie-related crime, it does not mean that jail time or a criminal record will result. It is possible that for the charges to be plea bargained to a non-criminal offense with required community service. It is necessary to repeat, however, that every case is different. So, when considering a selfie, it’s best to keep one’s feet on the ground—and in a public place.