People Whose Social Media Posts Got Them ArrestedFebruary 7, 2020
Social media has become so omnipresent in our lives that it’s easy to take it for granted. Many people don’t think twice before posting something inflammatory on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or another popular social media platform. It’s important to remember, however, that these are public spaces, and that other people can read what you write. As a result, social media posts can have consequences far beyond what we intended. In addition, police monitor social media to look for hints of potential threats. Thus, it is entirely possible to be arrested because of something you have posted on social media. Here are some people who found this out the hard way.
In 2014, a 20-year-old Los Angeles man named Dakkari McAnuff posted this on Twitter: “100 RTs and I’ll shoot someone walking.” He also posted photos showing a rifle being pointed, along with an image that seemed to show a person lying on the street. Police tracked him down and arrested him for making criminal threats, and his bail was set at $50,000. McAnuff claimed that it was an elaborate prank that he and his friends had played, and the rifle in the photos proved to be an air rifle. The district attorney’s office ultimately decided not to prosecute McAnuff.
In 2013, a 20-year-old psychology major named Caleb Clemmons posted an update to his Tumblr in which he appeared to threaten to go on a shooting spree at Georgia Southern University. In his defense, Clemmons said that the post was “an experimental literary piece and an art project,” rather than a literal threat. He was arrested and ended up spending months in jail because he and his family could not afford the bail fee. Ultimately, Clemmons was sentenced to five years’ probation for “making terroristic threats.”
In 2013, 18-year-old Justin Carter made a sarcastic comment on Facebook in which he said he would “shoot up a kindergarten.” The comment was seen and reported to the police. Carter was
arrested and jailed. Since bail had been set at $500,000, Carter spent months in jail until a good Samaritan donated the bail money to his family. Even so, he was charged with a felony offense, and faced up to 10 years in prison. Five years later, Carter accepted a plea bargain and his felony charges were dismissed.
In 2018, 18-year-old Morgan Roof made a post on Snapchat in which she said that she hoped students who were protesting against gun violence would be “shot.” Roof was reported to a school resource officer and later arrested after pepper spray and a knife were found in her locker. Roof made headlines for her arrest because of the notoriety of her brother, Dylann Roof, who murdered nine churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015.
In May 2013, 18-year-old Cameron D’Ambrosio, a Massachusetts teen who aspired to become a famous rapper, posted lyrics on his Facebook page that seemed to refer to the Boston Marathon bombings that had happened the previous month. While the lyrics did not make a specific threat against anyone, D’Ambrosio was reported to the police by other students. He was arrested and charged with making “terroristic threats.” He was eventually released from jail and his case was not prosecuted.
What do all of these cases have in common? The answer is simple: All of these people posted on social media without considering the possible consequences. Thus, they ended up getting swept into legal trouble that they could very easily have avoided. The lesson is clear: Think before you post! If anything you are thinking of writing on a social media platform could be construed as a threat, then you can spare yourself potential problems by not posting it. If you are arrested because of something you wrote on social media, however, you can still protect your rights. You simply need to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney who can help you with your case.
Are you facing a serious criminal charge? When you need a skilled legal mind in your corner, call Janet Altschuler. Ms. Altschuler has been a criminal defense attorney for more than two decades, and she is ready to provide you with the strong defense you deserve. As a former prosecutor at the Pima County Attorney’s Office, she has a thorough understanding of the local courts. She is also available 24 hours a day to assist you with your case. Call her office today at (520) 247-1789 to schedule a free consultation.