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 media.