Obstruction charges through Facebook posts

June 23, 2011
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Facebook users let people know what they are eating for dinner, that they don’t feel well, and their plans for Saturday night – why not let the world know when you are involved in a police standoff and possible hostage situation?

A man involved in a standoff with police kept up with his Facebook page throughout the 16-hour ordeal. The Utah man updated his status, responded to comments, and even posted a photo of the alleged hostage in the room with him. He did all this while police were trying to get him out of the hotel room after attempting to serve a felony warrant for failure to appear on drug-related charges.

Some of his Facebook friends even wrote about police movements outside the hotel. Those friends may now face obstruction charges. Ogden Police Lt. Danielle Croyle said police were monitoring his online accounts and those friends could be charged.

She also said it’s becoming more common for criminals to use social media even in the midst of dangerous situations. What is going through a criminal’s mind that while he’s involved in a car chase, burglary, standoff, etc., he thinks it’s the best time to whip out his smart phone and let the world know what’s going on? Couldn’t those comments be used against him in court?

This is the first I’ve read of a person involved in a criminal activity using social media simultaneously. Have you heard of any other examples?

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