Social Media Fights Are Not Worth ItWhen we talk about things on the internet staying there forever, we don’t just mean the embarrassing pictures your mom put on Facebook or the MySpace-era emoticon disaster from a decade ago — we mean EVERYTHING. No matter what you delete, or how quickly you delete it, every single post, tweet, picture, Snap, and text is recoverable in some way to get you in legal trouble, especially if someone has a vendetta against you. In other words, if you have a tendency to tweet or text your rage at your partner with exaggerated threats that you know you would never actually do, you can still get in trouble for pressing send.

Threats matter, no matter the medium. When they’re on the internet, the penalties only compound with other cyber-bullying laws here in Maryland and everything just gets worse for you. All it takes is one angry partner claiming fear of bodily harm while showing proof of a threat. Know how to play it safe, and how to protect yourself if the worst happens, unless you want to seriously risk losing custody of your children, your job, and your freedom.

How Annapolis treats threats in domestic abuse cases

Threats are pretty much never a good idea, no matter how funny you make them. Even if you’re threatening something harmless and legal, you’re, at least, at risk of getting laughed at in front of everyone. But when the threats are serious in nature, I have some news for you: they’re taken seriously. While no one’s likely going to haul you away for how you and your bestie jokingly threaten each other’s lives (a lot of people do that), it’s another story when the person you’re threatening is your partner, and there’s a chance they don’t think you’re joking.

Domestic violence includes the abuse of an intimate partner, spouse, child, or household member. “Abuse” is defined under the law as:

  1. an act that causes serious bodily harm;
  2. an act that places a person eligible for relief in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;
  3. assault in any degree;
  4. rape or sexual offense under § 3–303, § 3–304, § 3–307, or § 3–308 of the Criminal Law Article or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree;
  5. false imprisonment;
  6. stalking under § 3–802 of the Criminal Law Article; or
  7. revenge porn under § 3–809 of the Criminal Law Article.

If the person for whom relief is sought is a child, “abuse” may also include abuse of a child, as defined in Title 5, Subtitle 7 of this article.

Maryland doesn’t mess around with even hints of domestic violence, no matter how fair or not that is. Which means if you go on Twitter and tweet about wanting to do something terrible and violent towards your significant other, said significant other can bring that tweet to the police and get you arrested for domestic violence. Just like that. Honestly, the tweet might not even be looked at. If someone’s partner fears their health or life (or claims to), well — that’s a threat.

Getting arrested and charged with a serious crime isn’t even the only possibility here. If your partner is convincing enough, you could get slapped with a protective order that rips you away from your home, your children, your job, and pretty much your whole life as you know it. And yes, even tweeting about it could be a violation.

Protecting yourself after being charged with domestic violence

Put. Your phone. Down. Step away slowly. Slowly. Put a big cup over it like you would do with a spider you want someone else to move, if you have to. Your laptop? It is a frisbee now. Free it. Out the window. Do not post. Do not Snap. Do not either Tik or Tok. Everything you have ever put on the internet — or continue to put on the internet — is now evidence that can and will be used against you in court. If you delete anything? Well, that’s messing with evidence, and now you have a new charge to worry about. Whoopee!

Technically, you can still use social media after you’ve been charged with domestic violence, but understand the MASSIVE microscope that is now focused on every single new thing you put out there. Anything that is even mildly related to the situation can be twisted and turned against you, in ways that both add to your legal consequences and mess with things like child custody and asset rights. Ask yourself if the shade is worth it.

It’s not fair, but it’s true: it just doesn’t matter if you are actually abusive or not, once you’ve been charged. Not until your attorney is able to start advocating for you. The court is inclined to side with the apparent victim. So, even if you’re completely right to be furious because your girlfriend KNOWS you were joking and this is all really about who ate the last slice of pizza — seriously, do not say anything about it, because you can still end up in prison. You’re already going to be on the wrong foot of the law, and you’re going to have less time than your accuser to build your case, so either stick to posting pictures of your innocent breakfast or hand your phone to your attorney.

Also, get an attorney. Oh my god, get an attorney. Holy cow, do you need an attorney.

The sooner you do, the higher your chances of getting out of this. Getting charged with domestic violence is not a guaranteed conviction unless you don’t do anything to help yourself, like hiring someone who went through SO many years of school just to do this stuff for you. Annapolis criminal defense attorneys specialize in poking holes in your accuser’s stories while patching up the holes in yours. They keep you informed and give you all the advice you need to navigate something that is genuinely terrifying and ridiculously complicated, and they really are your best chance at freedom.

Taking chances is the absolute wrong thing to do right now. Hiring an attorney takes some chance out of the equation, which means it’s better for you in the long run. At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, our Annapolis criminal defense attorneys know their stuff and know how to help, no matter how convoluted or unique your situation is. Whether you’re in our town or Ellicott City, we are here to answer your questions and defend your rights like they’re our own. Call us today at 410-271-1892 or use our contact form, before you open Facebook.

And Remember: Keep Calm, and Call Drew!