Many people use the internet as a venue for free speech and personal expression, but taking things too far can complicate legal matters.
If you, a family member or a friend decide to use your social media accounts to vent about your case or confront alleged victims, you could face serious criminal consequences.
Violating a no-contact order
When parties in civil litigation cannot behave, the courts can legally require them to halt communications with one another during proceedings. When judges issue restraining orders, they mean business. Messages, tweets, likes and friend requests all count as “contact” and can land you in jail with contempt and other charges.
Online harassment and cyberbullying have become quite common. According to a Pew Research Center study, 41 percent of Americans report experiencing some form of internet stalking. If a court finds you guilty of committing cyber-harassment or online sexual harassment, you could face the following penalties:
- Monetary fine
- Restraining order
- Jail time
- Mandatory counseling
Using social media to run scams
With billions of active users every day, social media platforms are easy pickings for professional scammers to conduct theft, fraud and other malicious schemes. Cryptocurrency investment scams are the latest threat to scrollers, followed by romance swindles and fake retail websites. Depending on the facts of the case, internet fraud may be subject to both state and federal law.
If the government accuses you of using the internet to commit crimes, it is important to understand your rights as a citizen of the state of Washington.