Arrested? Watch what you say – and post! Avoid Self-Incrimination –
Self-Incrimination should be a real concern. If you have been arrested get off Facebook! Shut down your social media! Please, PLEASE, do not post anything about your case! Any police officer or prosecutor with a computer or smart phone can (and will) look you up on Facebook, Twitter, whatever it is that’s popular at the time. Everyone knows that you have right to remain silent when you are arrested – television and movies have taught us that. Your right to remain silent, also known as your Miranda Rights, does not apply to your social media accounts. Anything the government finds on there is on you. While this may seem like common sense, here are a couple of true stories from my years of practice:
I had a client who was arrested for illegally hunting deer during the off-season. He and a buddy were out hunting in the woods. They climbed up a tree stand and were sitting up in the air hanging out. Out walks a beautiful looking doe. One grabs the hunting rifle, the other a smart phone. They take aim with the rifle and the video camera, and shoot. The two of them climb down, grab the dead doe, and take off. So, are you asking yourself how in the world they got caught when they were hunting in the middle of the nowhere? Facebook. They posted the video of the shooting to Facebook and friends started liking, sharing it, reposting it. The next thing you know the video popped up on the Facebook feed of an agent from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. No kidding, my client had recorded himself committing a crime and then basically gave the video to law enforcement.
In another case, my client was charged was various crimes and went to trial. While the client was eventually found not guilty there was a little problem going in to the second day of the trial: throughout the day my client decided to share with the world her true feelings about the judge and prosecutor who were handling the case. Someone saw the not-so-kind words on Facebook and tipped off the prosecutor, who was more than willing to share the posts with the court. Needless to say that the judge did not appreciate some of the names my client had used to describe her; neither did the prosecutor. No charges came out of it, but you better believe it made for a stressful situation for the client.
I understand that social media is popular. I understand that for some it seems as important as oxygen. That being said, if you are arrested, deactivate your accounts. Don’t let the government in to your personal life. Don’t give the government the evidence they need on a silver platter. Don’t anger the judge who may sentence you or the prosecutor who has the discretion to drop your charges. I use Facebook to find dirt on witnesses and victims in my cases and I know that the government does the same thing when it comes to my clients.
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