Social media is an ever-growing monster that is only becoming more addictive and widely used each year. According to Lisa Houlé, it is more important than ever to educate young people about smart, safe social media usage. Lisa Houlé is the founder of Houlé Law, www.houle-law.com, a criminal defense practice that focuses on sex crimes, domestic violence, and defense of first responders. Ironically, prior to becoming a criminal defense attorney, Lisa spent 15 years working as a prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office convicting dangerous sex crime felons. “I have a unique perspective, in that I’ve sat on both sides of the table,” says Lisa. No matter what her courtroom position is, Lisa upholds a staunch commitment to justice. Regardless of innocence or guilt, everyone deserves a fair trial and a vigorous defense.
In recent years, Lisa has become particularly passionate about representing individuals that have been falsely accused of a sex crime. In many cases, the story is somewhat similar, a young man spends the night with a young woman they engage in consensual sexual activity, the two will go their separate ways, and a few months later that man receives a call from the police that he has been accused of a sex crime. “This is a life-altering, terrifying position, especially if you’re innocent of the crime you’re being accused of,” says Lisa. Lisa aggressively begins her defense from the minute the investigation begins, oftentimes providing the police with evidence they would have otherwise not been aware of. In this situation, Lisa is a defendant’s best chance at avoiding criminal charges all together and/or receiving a fair trial and hopefully being acquitted. “It is unfortunate to see both parties involved in a situation that may have been avoided through proper education about safe sex and getting to know someone before you have sex with them,” Lisa says.
Lisa travels around Los Angeles speaking to highschool graduates and soon to be college freshmen, educating them on the importance of consent, respecting women, and practicing safe sex. Collegiate or celebrity athletes may also be particularly susceptible to such accusations, so Lisa has spent time speaking to entire sports teams, educating them, and having honest, real, conversations. “In an ideal world, no young man would find themselves on the wrong side of an accusation, but this starts with education.”
According to Lisa, educating young women about such situations is equally important. Lisa also speaks to young women who are also about to head off to college. “I find that this demographic is particularly vulnerable because they may not have spent much time away from home and their parents or may not be aware of their limits when it comes to alcohol,” says Lisa, “It is our job as educators, parents, and mentors to teach our young people safe practices especially when it comes to alcohol and sex.”
In recent years, social media has become a huge factor in the sex crime industry. Social media can create a false sense of security. According to Lisa, there are several ways in which young women and men can practice safe use of social media and avoid legal issues arising from social media and smartphones.
1. Do not post or send provocative photos of yourself online. This can attract the wrong type of attention and put an unsuspecting individual in a dangerous conversation. Generally speaking, once you push send, it is out of your hands and control. The risk is too great, especially among teens, to trust that the person you sent the photo to will keep it to themselves.
2. Do not engage in provocative conversations or sexting with strangers online. Though it may seem innocent, one has no control over where their image or text conversation goes after it has been sent. To avoid your picture or private conversation ending up in the wrong hands, simply refrain from sending such images and texts in the first place.
3. Do not post or send photos of another person that were taken without the other person's consent. This should go without saying, but unfortunately, it happens all the time. Sharing or posting a photo of another person without their consent is not just morally wrong, it is also a crime and can be prosecuted as such.
4. Do not accept invites from strangers to connect online. Proceed with caution anytime you are using the internet. There is no way to know if the person on the other side of the screen is who they say they are.