Sunday, June 9, 2013

Social Media: When to keep your F #@%$** ing Mouth Shut.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my obsessions with Jodi Arias and George Zimmerman, the most important thing to do as a criminal defendant is to keep your mouth shut until you are represented by counsel. This is much easier said than done, but remember the police are not your friends.

Both defendants have put their foot in it by proclaiming innocence and changing their stories. And, I don't know what anyone was thinking to allow Jodi Arias to testify for 18 days

Before them, another young female criminal defendant was undone by what she said. Poor Amanda Knox was interrogated in Italian and told it would be worse for her if she got an attorney. She ended up accusing someone else of murdering Meredith Kercher and then "confessing" under duress.  An attorney at the outset might have saved her parents  millions of dollars and saved Amanda four years in prison.

But it's not just what criminal defendants say to police, it's also what they put in writing on Facebook and on their cell phones before they are arrested. Case in point, Amanda Knox's MySpace page where her exploits as "Foxy Knoxie" which sounds like Nazi, helped indict her.

Amanda has since graduated to facebook where she currently has five pages and one closed personal group.  The pages range from Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito Retrial, to Free Amanda Knox and an Amanda Knox movie. It's too bad she didn't know how to use the power of social media before her conviction, but maybe her book will make some money and she can pay her family back.

We now know that text messages on her cell phone did not help Jodi Arias. They were used to establish premeditation. She was provoked enough by a text from Travis Alexander that she drove 1000 miles to kill him.

If admitted into evidence, the text messages and images on Trayvon Martin's phone are going to help George Zimmerman. The prosecution neglected to give defense attorney Mark O'Mara  more than 1000 pictures and deleted text messages.  A court information technology director, who brought this misconduct to light, found images of marijuana, a hand holding a gun, naked girls that appeared to be underage, and a clump of jewelry on a bed and deleted texts that referenced a gun transaction.

The amount of personal information people will share is one thing. The incriminating nature of it is something else. Bragging rights aside, what are they thinking?

Article first published as Social Media: When to Keep Your F@#%ing Mouth Shut on Technorati.