What counts as “digital communication?” According to one New York judge, it could be as simple as tagging someone on Facebook.
According to CNET, Maria Gonzalez’s Facebook activity may land her in jail after a New York judge ruled she violated a restraining order via the social networking platform. The restraining order was placed by her sister-in-law, whom Gonzalez called “stupid” in a post she tagged her in.
“You and your family are sad…” she also wrote. “You guys have to come stronger than that!! I’m way over you guys but I guess not in ya agenda.”
The central issue is the definition of digital communication. Gonzalez is, of course, free to say anything she wants about anyone she wants over Facebook. The problem arose when she tagged her sister-in-law in the post, which sent her a notification. To the judge presiding over the case, that notification counts as a form of communication.
Thus, Gonzalez is being charged with second-degree criminal contempt. She faces a maximum penalty of a year in jail if convicted.
“Gonzalez’s attorney, seeking to dismiss the charges, reportedly told the court that the protection order didn’t specifically exclude communication via Facebook. Acting Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Susan Capeci reportedly disagreed. She said that the phrase in the protection order that read “by electronic or any other means” was sufficient to cover any Facebook communication. Gonzalez’s court-appointed attorney Kim Frohlinger didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. However, she told the New York Post that she wouldn’t appeal the ruling.”
Let this be a lesson: if you’re under legal pressure, don’t test the waters on social media.
You may also enjoy these related stories from our archives: