Social Media and the Right to Remain Silent, Part 3: Facebook

By September 16, 2015Legal Advice

criminal lawAlthough there are many forms of social media out there– Linked In, Instagram, Twitter– It is often Facebook which comes back to haunt people in court.

Today we’ll look at one such instance involving family court.

Family court can often be a pit of despair for everyone involved. There are levels of resentment and bitterness at work that are very difficult to deal with and can stand in the way of resolution.

Case in Point:

A person who enjoys smoking marijuana decides to share their love of weed with the world on Facebook. They’ve posted several pictures ranging from their new bong to shots of themselves, blowing out a large cloud of smoke, proclaiming the heady buzz gained from a particular strain.

All of this would seem pretty innocent really, in today’s climate of states legalizing Marijuana, but there are a couple of factors that one needs to consider before sharing anything marijuana related on social media.

#1: Marijuana is a schedule 1 narcotic, according to the Federal Government. You may as well be posting shots of your heroin rig as far as they’re concerned.

#2: Marijuana is still illegal in Pennsylvania.

#3: The judiciary system, despite a more overall lax attitude towards pot, tends to frown on ANY drug use by parents involved in a custody battle.

And suddenly, those funny shots posted on Facebook of friends getting loaded, rear their ugly head in court.

Ex-spouses involved in a child custody case can be pretty darned spiteful, seeking any advantage in court to gain custody of their kids. They will peruse their former partners social media interactions looking for anything they can use. Photos of a night on the town, drinking with friends, suddenly become fodder for tales of a raging alcoholic, incapable of raising children.

And drinking alcohol is legal!

Imagine now what can happen when the photos are of illegal activity.

Such was the case for the parent with the new bong, Their ex saw the photos, contacted the court and, you guessed it, sued for custody.

Suddenly, a parent is facing the loss of their children, all from a bad decision to post an otherwise harmless photo of their new bong.

In this particular case, the court ordered a drug test, in which a positive for marijuana use was the determination. Over the next three months, the parent (AND their current partner) had to take regular tests to show they had stopped using. Depending on things like usage and body fat, marijuana will remain detectable in a person’s system for a month or or more. In this instance, it took a full three months to clear all traces of the drug from the person’s system. During that time, they were fortunate that, having no criminal record, the parent was allowed to keep custody of their child, as long as the tests came back showing a marked decline in the amount of THC until reading zero.

So even though they were eventually exonerated and were able to keep custody, they lived through a period of great stress, all from posting a photo of their new bong and a puff of smoke.

In Part 4, we’ll talk about how social media can absolutely destroy any hope for an effective defense in a more serious criminal trial.

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