Facebook Posts Can Land You in Jail

Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Criminal Law, Family Law, General Law, Parenting Rights & Custody, Restraining Orders, Uncategorized

This year the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld a conviction of a man for stalking, criminal threatening and witness tampering based on his Facebook posts. In the case of State of New Hampshire v. Brian Craig (https://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/2015/2015011craig.pdf ), Mr. Craig was found guilty of these charges after a series of posts directed at one specific victim.  The victim worked as a bartender and waitress at a restaurant that Mr. Craig and his friends frequented.  Mr. Craig tried to have a relationship with the victim which she declined.  He began writing letters to her and the victim found the letters threatening and intimidating.  The victim contacted the police and the police served Mr. Craig with a stalking warning letter.  After receiving warning letter, Mr. Craig sent another written letter to the victim.  The victim then obtained a domestic violence protective order.  After receiving the restraining order informing him he was to have no contact with the victim, Mr. Craig began posting a series of comments on his public Facebook page.  The victim had not friended Mr. Craig but found his posts through a Facebook search because the comments were public.  After reading the posts, the victim called the police.  Mr. Craig was arrested for the criminal charges including violations of the restraining order. Mr. Craig defend himself by saying that he had not named the victim specifically by her name in his posts and did not send her the messages directly – the comments were merely posted on his public profile page.  However, the Court found that Mr. Craig had specifically told the victim he had put comments on his Facebook page.  When he did this, he was directing the communications to her.  Mr. Craig had no other logical reason to make the posts on his Facebook page.  The Court found that Mr. Craig was specifically trying to communicate his comments to the victim.  The Court found that the comments were meaningless to anyone else except the victim and the intent was to stalk and threaten the victim. When posting to Facebook, be aware that public comments can make a personal legally responsible for the comments made.  It is best to vent any negative comments to your friends and in your private off-line diary and not on Facebook or any other social...

Read More

Guardianships by agreement

Posted by on April 13, 2015 in Family Law, Guardianships

Guardianships can come about in several ways, and are brought to the courts for different reasons.  Guardianship over a minor person may arise as a precursor to adoption, as a challenge to a parent’s ability to care for the child, or as a result of an abuse & neglect case.  While it is entirely true that a guardianship proceeding may be the last thing any parent wants to go through, it is important to understand that guardianships aren’t always a negative thing.  When someone other than yourself is granted a guardianship over your child, it may be able to provide the support a parent needs to prevent any further negative consequences, and in turn, lay the foundation for a healthy and successful future for the family. Each biological or adoptive parent inherently retains full authority over their child.  This is guaranteed by our federal and state constitutions, as well as our state statutes.  A parent does not lose any bit of that parental authority until the Court makes an order as such (or a court’s approval of an agreement).  The basic principle of all guardianships, regardless of how they arise, rests on the finding that a child needs substitution or supplementation of parental care and supervision.  The Court may grant a guardianship to a person other than the parent in order to provide that supplementation of care that the child is lacking.  Sometimes, the courts will order a temporary placement for a child as the result of an abuse and neglect case.  This is particularly unfortunate, as the parent against whom the abuse or neglect claim is found not only risks having their child taken from their everyday care, but also, will have a finding of abuse/neglect against them.  A finding of abuse or neglect can have very serious consequences down the line, including possible termination of parental rights.  If a parent recognizes that they are in need of some additional supports for themselves and/or for their children, it may be worthwhile to explore the idea of a consented-to (agreed upon) guardianship with a family member or close friend that the parent trusts and has a good relationship with the children.  In this context, guardianships can be a good thing for the parent, in that they provide stability to the child, and could act as a delay or altogether preventative measure to DCYF becoming involved and potentially moving forward on an abuse and neglect claim. Again, there is more than 1 way a guardianship can arise.  It is important that you speak with an attorney at Shanelaris & Schirch, PLLC to understand all of your rights prior to entering into any...

Read More

Parenting in the Holiday Season

Posted by on December 23, 2014 in Collaborative Law, Divorce, Family Law, Parenting Rights & Custody

As we approach the holidays, tensions can run high amongst family members; that may be especially true for divorced or separated parents.  As parents we want the holiday season to be filled with joy for our children as well as for ourselves.  We reflect back on our holidays during our own childhood and strive to replicate the joy or replace what may be our own difficult memories with beautiful memories for our own children.  For parents that are newly divorced or separated this time of year may be even more stressful as the pain of loss of the once intact family feels ever present.  One of the best gifts that divorced parents can give their children is a peaceful holiday season.  As difficult as it may be for you, the parent, it is more difficult for your children.  They feel the painful loss as well, and want nothing more than to be able to spend time with both parents as well as extended family and friends.  Those events and activities that make up our holiday traditions are important to them as well.  So, while it may be difficult it is likely best if you are able to negotiate the holiday schedule well in advance of the holiday itself.  Respect both families and extended families and their traditions, and above all, remember that your children are a piece of both parents and an appreciation and respect for all family members will show your children how to negotiate and resolve conflict in the most positive way. A Lesson from Dickens for Co-Parents this Holiday...

Read More

“Spying” on your spouse: Privacy & Consequences

Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Criminal Law, Divorce, Family Law, General Law

Divorce and separation can be a difficult process for spouses to endure, particularly given that it uniquely requires true bravery, but also restraint.  In cases where a spouse suspects infidelity, addiction or other dishonesties, it is not uncommon they feel they want or need to get proof of their spouse’s wrongdoing.  All potential clients should heed this warning: the truth may not outweigh the risks, especially when those risks include possible state and federal criminal charges. When considering recording telephone calls, attaching a GPS monitoring device to a vehicle, or perusing another’s email inbox, it should be stressed that even if a spouse is able to “catch” the other person in their wrongdoing, the evidence of that wrong doing may not be admissible in court if it was obtained illegally.  In general, in order to record telephone or in-person conversations, there must be consent.  Under federal wiretapping laws, at least one party to the conversation must consent.  This one party can include you, the person recording.  But, this State has gone one step further, and require “two-party consent” under our wiretapping laws.  This means that all parties must consent to the recording of the conversation.  There are some intricate caveats and nuances, but generally speaking, to discretely record a telephone conversation of other parties without their knowledge and consent will likely not be admissible in court to prove the very thing you are attempting to prove.  Furthermore, by violating these privacy and wiretapping laws you could face criminal prosecution and expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages. Lastly, even if a spouse is successful on proving adultery, the family courts in New Hampshire are unlikely to deviate so far from an equal split in assets/debts that would make the trouble of potential criminal prosecution, worthwhile in the long run.  Reference the wiretapping and privacy laws applicable to you, for more specific information on the...

Read More