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6 Things Joe Goldberg from Netflix’s “You” Could Have Gone to Court for

Last year, like a lot of people, I was gripped when Netflix released its original series You starring Penn Badgley. Based on books by Caroline Kepnes, the initial series introduces us to Joe Goldberg, a book shop manager in New York who develops an unhealthy obsession with a customer.

This obsession leads him to undertake some…very questionable pastimes. So, when season two was released just after Christmas, I was hooked for the second time around.

In this piece, I am going to explain just some of the reasons why Joe could have found himself in court throughout both seasons of the show.

WARNING: I’ll try to avoid any plot spoilers, but some might be unavoidable when explaining the crimes involved. If you haven’t watched yet – approach with caution!

1. Voyeurism

One of the initial ways we are introduced to the level of Joe’s obsession in season one is his desire to keep an eye on the women he takes interest in. In the pilot season, he uses the zoom on a camera to watch into the windows of Guinevere Beck, the object of his obsession.

In the next season, we see him set up a telescope in his apartment for the very same purpose. This type of watching people without their consent is an offence in England and Wales known as voyeurism and it is protected under s67 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

This crime involves watching, recording or photographing the victim without their knowledge or consent for the purpose of sexual gratification. Such actions are also an invasion of privacy and therefore, Joe could have not only been hit by a voyeurism offence but also a case linked to invasion of privacy.

2. Stalking and Harassment

Stalking itself is an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act. To be guilty of stalking Joe would have to have been found on at least two occasions indulging in conduct which causes the victim harassment, alarm or distress. Spoiler alert: there were definitely more than two occasions.

Relevant to Joe’s conduct in both season one and two is monitoring the use of a persons internet, email or any form of electronic communication is also included – as we have seen Joe mirroring the phones of those he took interest in – as well as loitering, interfering with property or spying on his desired women.

The only issue with this from a criminal point of view, and to the benefit of Joe, is that few of his victims realised they were being followed, mirrored or watched.

3. Theft

In amongst the chaotic progress of both season one and season two of You, Joe finds himself in situations where he takes things from both the homes of the women he has become obsessed with and from other people that have gotten in his way of obtaining their affection.

Theft is defined under the 1968 Theft Act as dishonestly appropriating property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. Sadly for some of his victims, among a slew of offences on the list, this is one of the most trivial.

4. Drug Offences

Season two’s storyline sees Joe in possession of a hell of a lot of drugs. Whilst the punishment would depend on exactly the type of drug he ended up with, possession of a Class A drug leads to a sentence of seven years maximum in the UK, whilst possession of a Class C drug leads to a two-year maximum sentence. Either way Joe could be found guilty of a crime here and punished in court.

5. Kidnapping and False Imprisonment

One of the most recognisable and arguably terrifying image from You is the transparent box built in the back of the bookstore to protect books undergoing repair. Joe, however, repurposes this into a cage on a number of occasions by luring people into it and falsely imprisoning them there.

Both kidnapping and false imprisonment are offences under UK law. But what’s the difference? Kidnapping is taking someone away by force without their consent or any lawful excuse. False imprisonment is detaining someone against their will. Many of these instances of kidnap and false imprisonment in You led to further offences or violence. The list goes on…

6. Murder

Spoiler alert: Joe took the lives of five people in season one of “You” and three in season two. He may also be found to have attempted murder in some cases or be an accessory in other situations. In all six cases listed above, Joe would be found guilty of murder in court.

Again, in benefit to Joe, the storyline works in his favour to make it uncertain who killed a number of the characters who met their demise; therefore, evidence would have to be found against him first.

What Next?

With hints of a third season of You to be released in late 2020 or early 2021, it is clear that Joe’s ever-increasing list of offences isn’t becoming big enough of a burden just yet to stop him. So you’re likely to see more of the same or some brand-new offences in the next instalment of the hit series.

Words: Alicia Gibson

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