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Online Life Meets Criminal Defense

Technology changes everything.  In these times, everything people do is somehow documented. People are constantly “tweeting,” and think that the entire world wants to know what they doing at any particular moment.  Facebook and MySpace are all the rage.  People are inviting the public to share their private lives.

However, people are now learning the dangers of these practices.  As Columbus criminal defense attorneys, we often find ourselves in trial before judges and juries.  Once we get a witness list, the first thing we do is check for information on Facebook and Myspace.  It’s amazing what people will post online.  We have found pictures of our clients smoking marijuana. We have found pictures of key prosecuting witnesses drinking beer with the police who arrested our client.  We have found pictures of witnesses violating court orders.  The list is virtually endless.  Sometimes these things ruin a defense.  Sometimes they make our case.  But it’s always worth checking.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune confirmed what we already know.  A girl was found drinking on her Facebook page.  There were witty comments online from her friends bragging about how she passed out.  The point is that she was on probation and not allowed to drink.  The court found out, and she paid a hefty price.

Whether it’s an OVI/DUI, drug crimes, or some other criminal offense, we always advise our clients to watch what they are doing in public and watch what they are saying to their friends.  Now we go a step further.  Watch what you are putting on line.  The courts the prosecutors, and the probation officers are catching on.  Something stupid posted on line—even if just puffing or bragging—can turn a manageable problem into a big one.

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