Thursday, May 31, 2007

3 Games and You've Got 25 to Life

Making game sales a felony is the latest idea out of a New York legislature so bent on wasting time that they've authored dozens of anti-video game bills in the last month. The Constitutional issues have been brought up in other reports, but New York GameStop employees (among others) should really be paying attention. Why?

New York has a "3 Strikes" rule, which was upheld in 2005.

While the law does give some leeway for the sentencing court, it theoretically allows a judge to put someone away for life for selling a copy of, say, Gears of War to a 16 year old who looks 18. Yes, selling a game could come with a life sentence under the new law.

As I have stated before, this is just poor governance. However, to go as far as to make it a felony borders on lunacy. It would only further contribute to prison overcrowding, among other things. Moreover, providing alcohol or tobacco to a minor is generally a misdemeanor and a fine in most states, and there is no penalty for selling a copy of Saw or Hostel to a minor. In any event, the game developer and game retailer attorneys will likely be busy in New York in the coming months considering the determination the New York legislature is showing on this non-issue.

[Update: A reader apprised me of a very recent federal district court decision that may, for the time being, put the New York 3 Strikes rule on hold. However, that doesn't mean this hypothetical is any less relevant. (And after all, it is merely a hypothetical as the game regulation bill hasn't yet passed.)
1. The part of the law the district court has issue with could be removed from or modified in the law rather easily by the legislature or an activist judiciary. This would make all twice convicted felony offenders "persistent felony offenders" and eligible for the heightened third strike penalty (rather than allowing the judicial discretion).
2. The district court could be overturned on appeal.
3. The New York legislature could simply pass a new 3 strikes rule modeled on California's rule, which has already been upheld by the US Supreme Court.

So, while the issue may be (hypothetically) muted for the time being, it is by no means dead.]


Unknown said...

Dumbest Law Ever.

I'm a 38 year old parent of two kids. Policing your kids interests is the parents job, not the county, city, state, or nations job.

Manny said...

"New York has a "3 Strikes" rule, which was upheld in 2005.

Upheld by the state Court of Appeals. Tossed by a federal court in March. Now to be sure, it's just a leetle district court, and the Circuit and perhaps SCOTUS may weigh in later. But for now, aside from the (lack of) merit of the law itself, it appears that any potential applicability of New York's discretionary three-strikes law is in considerable doubt.

Mark Methenitis said...

Given the article you linked, it would not take much for the legislature (or an active judiciary) to modify the law to satisfy the issues the Disctrict court addressed. Given that NY passed a 3 Strikes Law before, I would suspect the legislature would replace it with a new law if this one is in fact struck down for good (for example, one similar to California's, which has withstood the Supreme Court). The opinion does provide an interesting take on the law and the power it affords the judge, however. Thanks for the link to that article.

Of course, given that New York hasn't passed this gaming bill as yet, it is a merely hypothetical issue anyway.

Jeremy said...

The 8th Amendment sends the U.S. a postcard.

"Wish you were still here."

Z. R. said...

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Unknown said...

This bill, A08696 by Democrat Assemblyman Joseph Lentol will have to share the spotlight with a similar bill proposed by Sen. Andrew Lanza (R), which is backed by Senate Republicans. All of this is about Gov. Eliot Spitzer's promise to legislate video games. According to GamePolitics, the enforceable parts (the Class E felony) would go into effect 120 days after the bill passes. The State Assembly goes into recess on June 21, so this bill needs to be on the fast track to make it. New York is getting really creepy with this game legislation.

email the fools here:

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