Just like a car, Facebook is increasingly becoming a tool that can steer you straight into legal trouble. There's been plenty of news about people finding out about insurance fraud or other crimes because of posts on the social networking site.
Then there's Paula Asher of Kentucky. After being accused of hit-and-run and DUI, Asher got an additional two nights in jail because of her comment on Facebook, according to Lexington, Ky.'s WLEX-TV. In reference to her crashing into a car full of teenagers and driving off, Asher wrote, "My dumb (expletive) got a DUI and I hit a car... LOL."
Needless to say, the judge did not find it funny and ordered Asher to shut down her Facebook page. When Asher failed to do that, she got thrown in jail for contempt.
So can social media hurt your case?
After you are arrested for DUI, if you don't negotiate a plea deal for a lesser offense or get the case dismissed outright, it will go to trial. In a trial, evidence will be presented to show that you were in fact driving under the influence.
The most obvious evidence would be the Breathalyzer test or other chemical test that measures your blood alcohol concentration. Other evidence can include an officer's observations about your demeanor, driving habits, and field sobriety test results.
Since prosecutors don't like to lose, they will do their best to find whatever other evidence is needed to convict you. This includes anything that is public on the Internet. In fact, even if your pages are set to "private," a person who's seen your page can testify in court about what you said online.
In Paula Asher's DUI case, the court did not know about her Facebook posts until those with access to her account let the accident victims know. The victims then alerted the court to the statements, according to WLEX.
While her statements won't be used in her trial for guilt, they could be used to show that she had no remorse for her actions. That may potentially be enough to get her a harsher sentence.
So as fun or cathartic as it may seem to post on Facebook about your court cases, remember that your online posts can be used against you in a court of law.
- Find a Philadelphia DUI Attorney (FindLaw)
- Blogger Charged for Threatening Philly Cop, DA on Facebook (FindLaw's Philadelphia Criminal Law News)
- Will Drunk Drivers Have Their Mug Shots Posted On Facebook? (FindLaw's Philadelphia DUI Blog)
- LOL comment no joke to judge (Louisville, Ky.'s WAVE-TV)