Everyone has heard the Miranda advisement “You have the right to remain silent. Everything you say can and will be used against you…” As an Orange County criminal defense lawyer, I would like everyone to hear that everything you post on Facebook or other social media will be used against you. In just the last few months I’ve seen the following:
-Two gang members and a friend post a video of a fight they got in with a rival gang member.
-A woman posts a picture of herself holding a meth pipe and blowing a ring of smoke.
-A man posts a rant about how his ex-girlfriend is a “ho-bag” and how she and her family are “pond scum”.
-A man posted a song, written to his ex about how he couldn’t get on in life without her.
Every one of these posts had serious consequences. In the gang case, there were no witnesses. The rival gang member turned out to be armed with a knife and have a violent criminal past. The two gang members tried to claim they hit the other in self defense, but the video and boasting about it defeated that claim. Given the victim’s past and the fact that he was armed, self-defense would have been reasonable. The Facebook post of a video (which a prosecutor happily pulled up to show me on his phone) defeated that. The men were sent to jail.
The woman with the meth pipe was seeking a restraining order against her child’s father. The child’s father claimed that she was only seeking the order because he knew that she was doing drugs and he wanted her to stop. On the witness stand she adamantly denied ever doing drugs. Court convened for the lunch hour and the male defendant told me that she’d once posted a picture of her smoking meth. He, unfortunately, had been blocked from her Facebook account and couldn’t retrieve it himself.. He called a mutual friend of theirs, who pulled the picture up and downloaded it to a flash drive for him. He picked it up, had it printed and gave it to me when court resumed after lunch.. She again denied ever using drugs. I showed her a picture of her blowing smoke rings into a mirror, holding a meth pipe and she tried to claim that she did it just that one time. The judge was not only offended at the lying and drug use, but that this child’s mother was nearly naked in the photo and had posted a picture of herself as such. The restraining order was denied and my client was awarded custody.
There is a fine line between love and hate and often, that is why restraining orders exist. Posting rants about an ex is common, if not to be expected. But, if your ex ever seeks a restraining order against you, every one of those messages will be admissible to prove that you are either a danger or a nuisance. Restraining orders can be issued in either case.
It is not uncommon for a criminal defense lawyer to search the name of any victim or witness, looking for either exculpatory or incriminating information. Social media posts can provide invaluable evidence for criminal attorneys. Personal postings should be done with caution.
If you or a loved one are in need of a criminal defense lawyer or restraining order attorney in Orange County or Southern California, call the Law Offices of Staycie R. Sena at (949)477-8088 for a consultation today.