While social media can wrap its tendrils around several aspects of a family law case, one of the more serious impacts social media can have is in cases where an Order for Protection (OFP) is in place. It is important to understand the implications of social media and Orders for Protection if your case involves an OFP.
An Order for Protection is a type of restraining order that applies only in situations of domestic violence. Although an Order for Protection in itself should be taken seriously, it is still a civil matter that is handled by the family courts. A violation of an Order for Protection is a criminal matter and can have extremely serious consequences. The most common type of violation occurs when there is contact between the party subject to the Order for Protection and the protected party or parties. Traditionally violations occurred by way of actions such as physical contact, mailing of letters, and phone calls.
Before social media, a party subject to an Order for Protection would typically vent to his or her friends about the order. He or she might even have used the name of the protected parties during the venting, and this was totally normal. Today, rather than face-to-face griping in a small group, many of us take to social media to vent our frustrations or talk about the events in our lives with our “friends.” It is here that the tendrils of social media start to tighten their grip.
The courts have treated the “tagging” or “mentioning” of protected parties in posts by the party subject to the Order for Protection as violations of the order. Typically, this has been viewed by the courts as contact by or on behalf of the party subject to the Order for Protection. In addition, the sending of pictures or messages directly via email or through social media avenues such as messenger on Facebook, direct message on Twitter, snap on Snapchat, and other functions of any of the social media applications are also treated as violations.
In the event you find yourself subject to an Order for Protection, it is crucial to examine your social media presence and how it relates to the people who are protected by the order. Even an accidental keystroke here or there can have criminal consequences if it causes a violation of the Order for Protection. Similarly, if you find that you are getting “tagged” or “mentioned” in the social media accounts of someone against whom you have an Order for Protection, do not take it lightly by leaving it unreported.
If you have or need an Order for Protection, or you are the subject of one, you can benefit from legal representation. We invite you to contact Mundahl Law to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal needs.
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