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Cell phone photo lands 12-year-old Channelview ISD student in serious trouble

Saturday, December 08, 2012

A 12-year-old is accused of a crime because of what she did with her cell phone at school. Her story is a reminder of how because of our quickly changing technology, you may be breaking the law without even realizing it.

The 12-year-old Channelview ISD student's attorney says she was using her iPhone to take a picture of herself and a friend, but the phone has two camera lenses and she accidentally selected the wrong one. As a result, she snapped a picture of what could be percieved as a very racy picture of another young girl.

"They were telling me that I can get in a bunch of trouble for taking a picture like that, and I told them that it was an accident and they were like, 'no, you're lying,'" said the girl, who we're not identifying.

She was pulled out of class Friday at Alice Johnson Junior High, handcuffed, put into a patrol car and taken into custody all because of an incident Thursday at the school in the locker room. Her attorney says she was trying to snap a picture of herself and friends when she mistakenly took one out of her iPhone's forward-facing lens -- a picture of another student not fully clothed.

"She was just pulling down her pants, but not all the way -- barely," she told us.

The 12-year-old says she immediately realized her mistake and deleted the picture, even showing the girl who was in that alleged picture as she did.

But on Friday, she was arrested for taking it.

Lawyer Jack Carroll says the law protects the content that's on your phone. He says the Constitution was violated when investigators took the girl's phone to look for the picture.

"It's like having a government official or a police officer look through your diary. You can't do that without consent or a search warrant," he said.

But KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy doesn't agree, saying the law is different because this occurred on school grounds.

"Like when you enter the airport you give up many of your constitutional rights; when you go into school you give up many of your constitutional rights in regards to search and seizure," Androphy said.

"They couldn't find nothing, but they're still saying that I did it," the 12-year-old said.

The girl just wants to go back to school. She's been suspended for three days and is being sent to an alternative school for another 30 days. She and her parents are appealing that assignment to alternative school.

We should note that investigators could not comment in any detail on this case because juveniles are involved.

Channelview ISD did not return our repeated calls for comment.

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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channelview, local, kevin quinn
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