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A legal expert explains 7 times Joe Goldberg could have gone to prison in ‘You’

After more than a year away, the first half of You season 4 dropped on Netflix on Thursday, with many fans anticipating whether Joe Goldberg’s move to the UK, after faking his own death at the end of the last season, might finally see him turn over a new leaf. 

Over the last few years, we’ve seen his obsession with the likes of Candace, Beck and Love lead him to some questionable decisions that would almost certainly see him serve a considerable amount of time behind bars. 

With this in mind, the team at BPP University Law School have taken a look back at the last three seasons and explained the seven times Joe could have found himself in trouble with the law. 

You. Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 402 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022
  1. Murder 

Beginning with the obvious, the most serious crime that we’ve seen Joe commit time and time again across the last few seasons is murder. 

Starting with Benji (Beck’s ex-boyfriend) in season one, through to the demise of his wife and murder accomplice Love at the end of the last season, Joe has killed a number of characters over the years.

If caught and found guilty of his crimes, Joe would be handed a life sentence, yet he’s been very careful to leave no evidence behind – from burning down his home to pinning Beck’s murder on her therapist. 

  1. Theft

Another crime we’ve seen Joe commit on various occasions throughout the last few seasons is theft. 

Starting with Beck’s phone after saving her from a subway track, we’ve seen Joe slowly steal an abundance of items belonging to the women he becomes obsessed with, along with items from other characters that have attempted to get in the way of his relationship with them. 

Theft in the UK is defined as dishonestly taking someone else’s property with the intent to deprive another of it and can see you slapped with a maximum sentence of several years behind bars if caught.  

  1. Stalking and Harassment

One of the first times that we see the beginning of Joe’s obsessive behaviour in You, is when he starts stalking Beck.

After successfully stealing her mobile phone without her knowledge, which gives him access to her address, schedule and more, we see him begin to loiter outside her home, spy on every aspect of her life, and follow her in an attempt to win over her affection. 


As the seasons progress, the same stalking and harassment behaviour becomes a pattern for Joe with each of the new women he meets. Stalking in this manner is an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and to be prosecuted one needs to be found guilty of causing the victim alarm and distress at least twice, which we know Joe almost certainly has.

  1. Kidnapping and False Imprisonment  

Another crime we know Joe is almost definitely guilty of is the kidnapping and false imprisonment of his victims. 

After a backstory explaining the glass cage below the bookstore that Joe works in during season one, he begins frequently using it and even builds a new one in season 3 under Love’s bakery. He uses this cage to imprison his victims, before eventually murdering them.  

While not everyone kept in the cage met their demise, unlawfully taking someone away without their consent and keeping them imprisoned is against the law, and being found guilty could land you some serious time behind bars. 

  1. Impersonation 

As well as stealing and stalking, we’ve also seen Joe impersonate the owners of the phones he has stolen on a number of occasions, including the women he becomes obsessed with. 

While impersonation on its own isn’t technically an offence, it’s always almost impossible to do so without breaking other laws. For example, accessing someone’s private information in an attempt to impersonate them without their consent is an offence, as each person has the right to privacy, and not have personal details disclosed. 


Either way, if Joe was found guilty in court for impersonation, breach of privacy can see you slapped with a pretty hefty fine. 

  1. Possession of Drugs

Throughout You, we see Joe in possession of – and using – drugs frequently. He uses LSD in season 2, and aconite at the end of season 3, to paralyse Love before killing her. Both are banned and illegal substances in the UK. 

If he was caught in possession of drugs, the punishment would depend on the class of drug found, as well as the amount. For example, possession of a class A substance can carry seven years in prison in the UK, while those in possession of class C drugs (such as cannabis), could be sentenced to as much as two years imprisonment. 

  1. Faking His Own Death to Evade Prison

The last season concluded with Joe faking his own death in a house fire, and even cutting off his own toes in an attempt to evade prison for the crimes both he and Love had committed. 

While faking your own death isn’t inherently a crime, you almost always break other laws in the process such as forging death certificates, and in Joe’s case, being a fugitive of the law by evading prison. 

With season 4 picking up after he has fled to the UK to assume a new identity as Jonathan Moore if he is eventually caught for his crimes, he’s likely to serve some serious jail time. 


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