Sometimes clients or potential clients send me messages on public forums like Facebook. Shockingly, the messages include incriminating statements or even admissions of guilt. I have to remind them that the internet is like Las Vegas in that what goes on the internet, stays on the internet and that it can be seen by anyone, including the police and prosecutors.
A Michigan woman found this out the hard way when she posted about her DUI collision on social media.
The woman was driving under the influence of alcohol when she collided into another vehicle. Following the collision, she fled the scene to a nearby hotel which had a computer and she immediately began posting about the incident.
Officers tracked her down to the hotel. The front desk attendant told the officers that the woman had come in, said that she had been in a collision, and that she had been drinking.
The officers then then tracked down the computer that the woman had been using. The woman had closed neither Facebook nor the Facebook messages that she had sent a friend. Lo and behold, there was a message from the woman to her friend detailing the DUI-accident.
A later breath test revealed that the woman had a blood alcohol content of 0.12 percent. It was also discovered that her license was expired. She was booked on charges of driving under the influence, operating a vehicle with an expired license, and leaving the scene of an accident causing injury.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Facebook message will be used against the woman in court.
Ok, so the officers in this instance didn’t discover the incriminating social media information as you might’ve expected, namely scanning pages hoping to come across incriminating information. That doesn’t change the point I’m trying to make.
Keep your mouth shut…and your fingers off the computer.
The Fifth Amendment exists for a reason and is useless unless it is exercised. It doesn’t matter whether you’re guilty or innocent. Exercising your right to remain silent is about protecting yourself and your rights.
Not only will statements made to police be used against someone in a DUI case, or any criminal case for that matter, but also the information they post on social media.
Being a criminal defense attorney for close to eight years now, I’ve known prosecutors and law enforcement agents to search Facebook and other social media platforms for information that might incriminate people. If found, that information is often used as evidence in a criminal case against the person.
If you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, simply tell the officers that you respectfully decline to answer any questions without a lawyer present. Bear in mind that officers do not need to read you the Miranda Rights before they start asking question during a DUI stop. If you are arrested and charged, do not discuss the matter with anyone, either online or in person, to anyone but your attorney.