By Cynthia Veintemillas and Jeremy T. Simons
For this week, I am proud to “repurpose” an article written by Attorney Cynthia Veintemillas, senior partner at 20 Miles Law in Jacksonville. Her advice to anyone arrested for a crime in Florida: GET RID OF FACEBOOK. My advice: If you are involved in any legal conflict of any nature, GET RID OF FACEBOOK.
We understand that Facebook is addictive, but it has a huge potential of ruining your chances of fighting criminal charges and could actually lead to a criminal conviction. Your Facebook page could destroy your defense simply based on your postings. Alternatively, an alleged victim’s case could be destroyed as well by his or her postings on Facebook. Here are some of the examples that Attorney Veintemillas gives where criminal cases have turned based on the Facebook postings:
1. A juvenile in Florida is charged with an assault. The juvenile informed his lawyer that he was defending himself against another teenager that attacked him. The juvenile acted under the Florida’s self-defense laws, so he should not be guilty of assault and battery. To prove that the Florida juvenile is not guilty of assault and battery, his lawyer has evidence that the alleged victim of the Florida assault and battery charge was threatening the juvenile on Facebook. With the Facebook page, the lawyer can show that the other teenager had been planning to fight the juvenile.
2. A man is arrested for possession of cocaine and marijuana. This man was just released from county jail for possession of marijuana. He is also on probation for driving under the influence charges, so he is facing a violation of probation charge. He contacts a local DUI lawyer that is also a criminal lawyer that handles these matters. His attorney takes evidence to the State Attorney and the judge showing that the client was just released from a rehab program, is going through outpatient treatment, and working full time and enrolled in college courses at a State university. The prosecutor shows a copy of the client’s Facebook status talking about “partying” and how “messed up” on drugs he is. How do you think it turned out?
3. A woman has been arrested for domestic battery. She writes all over her Facebook wall about how she is going to kill her husband. Her domestic battery lawyer is trying to get her out of jail. When the local judge is deciding whether or not to release the domestic battery criminal defendant, he considers her Facebook status updates threatening her husband. The judge does not release the domestic battery criminal defendant on her own recognizance, but gives her a high bond that she must pay to get out of the County Jail. This evidence will also be used against her if her husband and the victim of the domestic battery tries to apply for a restraining order and when she tries to fight the injunction. A domestic violence attorney should instruct you to stay away from Facebook during any domestic dispute.
Some of the best advice that you can receive from a criminal law attorney, family attorney, domestic violence attorney, and even a bankruptcy attorney is to stay away from Facebook when you are in a dispute. What you post on Facebook can be used against you in so many ways.
Thank you so much to 20 Miles Law for letting me repurpose this article. Trivia question: Why is the firm called 20 Miles Law?