Even online, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Even online, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on social media, you likely read abusive and offensive statements posted or left as comments to a post.

Justin Olsen, an 18-year-old Ohio man has been arrested and is facing state and federal charges after investigators claimed he made threats against federal law enforcement and Planned Parenthood. The FBI investigation found multiple entries in which Olsen posted his support of mass shootings, and cited a target of Planned Parenthood.

Olsen was arrested on Aug. 7 and told the FBI that his posts were “only a joke”. He was booked into the Mahoning County Jail on state charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing, and the federal charge of threatening a federal law enforcement officer.

Is abusive language unlawful?

Although the Justin Olsen’s charges are severe for online behavior, a malicious or threatening post may qualify as defamation. Defamation is the publication of a statement about someone which hurts their reputation in the eyes of members of society.

Abusive language is always in bad taste but it is unlikely to break the law unless threatening or contains criminal intent.

Can I be arrested for releasing a video?

Richard Godbehere, a Hawaii native, knows all too well about the repercussions that come with “over-sharing”. In February, he uploaded a 5 minute video of himself driving, then cracking open a beer and taking a drink. He made a joke stating “We all know drinking and driving is against the law. You’re not supposed to do that. But they didn’t say anything about driving and then drinking.”

Even though he knew he was posting a video of himself doing something illegal, he was still surprised when the police showed up at his house prepared to arrest him on charges of consuming alcohol while operating a vehicle.

Although Godbehere stated the video was meant as a parody and claimed there was no beer in the bottle, the Police Chief Darryl Perry stated “Our traffic laws are in place for a reason, and Mr. Godbehere’s blatant disregard for those laws is the type of behavior that won’t be tolerated.”

Severe consequences.

In Steubenville Ohio, social media played a part in the case against two football players who were found guilty of raping a drunk 16 year old girl.

The victim says she doesn’t remember much of what happened that night when Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, assaulted her at a friends party in 2012, and was only made aware of it after a video popped up on social media. A key piece of evidence was an instagram photo of the boys carrying the girl out of the house by her arms and legs.

Legal experts say photos and videos, whether posted publicly or obtained by police, have to meet certain criteria:

  • They must be authenticated, meaning the prosecutors have to prove the images are what they seem and have not been altered or staged;
  • And they can’t be shown out of context

Additional charges were later brought against two teenage girls after police were shown twitter posts threatening the victim physical harm if she didn’t drop the charges.

When the accused admits to posting the materials themselves, the incriminating posts put them in the awkward position of having to disavow their own words. The boys each served 2 years in prison.

If you or someone you love is in need of an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, call Terry Sherman. 

What to Do When You’ve Been Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

What to Do When You’ve Been Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is viewed by society and the courts as a serious charge against a criminal defendant. Regardless of whether you’re guilty or innocent, mere allegations of domestic violence against you can adversely affect your life and your future.

While millions of people are abused by their spouse or partner every year, (approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men) unfortunately, some people are quick to fabricate stories in order to “get back at” the alleged offender. These allegations are not only hurtful but undermine those that are true victims of domestic violence. If you’ve been accused or charged with a domestic violence offense, it’s extremely important that you contact an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer right away to protect yourself. It is not an admission of guilt.

What is Domestic Violence?

Many people believe that domestic violence is limited to a physical action against a spouse, family member or significant other.

Under Ohio law, victims of domestic violence are protected by both civil and criminal laws. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. Domestic violence charges may also extend to:

  • Stalking
  • Mental/psychological abuse
  • Destruction of personal property
  • Cyberbullying
  • Throwing things toward the victim (even if they don’t actually hit the victim)
  • Sexual abuse

Whether domestic violence charges are charged as misdemeanors or felonies depends on the allegations, the age of the individuals, and whether there were weapons involved, and the associated punishments will range accordingly.

Understanding Domestic Violence Charges

Though unfair, people may accuse individuals of domestic violence for a number of reasons. Disputes can arise during a divorce, custody hearings regarding children, or just due to day-to-day stress of living under the same roof. If the alleged victim is seeking marital assets in a divorce or seeking custody of children, they might believe that domestic violence allegations will help their cause.

Many domestic violence victims, unfortunately, later recant their testimony or state that they no longer want to press charges. However, by this time, it’s usually too late. The decision to go forward with domestic violence charges is completely up to the prosecutor on the case.

Experienced Domestic Violence Defense

Being wrongfully accused of something as serious as domestic violence can be scary and has the potential to dramatically impact your life.

Attorney Terry Sherman is an experienced criminal defense attorney that has helped many clients dismiss or lessen domestic violence charges against them. He knows how to navigate your criminal allegations from start to finish and will help you arrive at the best possible result.

5 Things not to do when facing assault charges

5 Things not to do when facing assault charges

You didn’t intend to get involved in a fight when you went out for a night with your friends, but one thing led to another and you ended up getting pulled into a violent altercation and the police got involved. Now, you’re facing assault charges and you’re not sure what to do. Making the wrong choices could be detrimental to your case.

Here’s a list of common mistakes made when facing assault charges.

Talking to Police. Police are trained to manipulate you to get what they want, this includes evidence against you. For example, let’s say that you’ve been involved in a violent bar fight and the police are called. They might take you aside, hand you an ice pack for your swollen knuckles, tell you the other guy is clearly at fault and ask you for your side of the story. Naturally, you’ll want to explain yourself and tell your side, so you do. At that point, the police arrest you and charge you with assault. Unfair but legal, and also avoidable. The truth is, you don’t have to talk to the police. You’ve heard of your right to remain silent. That’s not just for after you’re arrested. You don’t have to speak to the police ever. Exercise your right to remain silent and stay silent until you talk with an attorney.

Talking with Others About the Assault. Being involved in an assault can be traumatic. It’s natural to want to talk about what happened with other people, to explain your side of the story or ask for advice. Just like talking to the police can hurt you, anything you say to other people can be used against you in court. This even includes those closest to you, like siblings and parents. It’s best to not discuss the incident with anyone except your lawyer.

Posting About the Incident on Social Media. Any time you’re involved in an incident that might result in you appearing in court, do not post about it on any social media forum, including Facebook, Twitter, or SnapChat. Prosecutors absolutely love to blow up huge images and Tweets for the benefit of the jury and use your words against you. So post anything, not even a fist emoji. It can be taken out of context and turned around to hurt you.

Contacting The Victim of the Assault. You may want to apologize, or clear the air, especially if the victim was a friend. Regardless of the reason, don’t do it. This is because anything you say to the victim may be used against you in court. Even if you had the best intentions.

Destroying Evidence. Maybe you’re reading this after you’ve already posted a video of the incident. Don’t delete the post and don’t delete the video from your electronic devices. This considered destroying evidence and can actually land you in more trouble.

Just like there are there are lots of things you can do that will hurt your case, there are also things you can do to improve your situation. With the help of an expert criminal defense attorney, you can give yourself the best chances of putting this behind you. Call Terry Sherman today to schedule a free legal consultation!

​Do hotter temperatures mean hotter tempers?

​Do hotter temperatures mean hotter tempers?

You can’t ignore the headlines. Violent crime has a tendency to go up right along with the temperatures. But does hot weather actually cause increases in crime?

Almost all the established academic literature that examines not just months, but the temperatures within those months has determined that there is a high correlation between increased temperature and elevated crime levels. Now, a team of researchers has developed a model that could help explain why. The researchers call the new model CLASH (Climate Aggression, and Self-control in Humans).

“Climate shapes how people live, it affects the culture in ways that we don’t think about in our daily lives,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.

One theory, the “aggression” theory holds that people are more easily agitated in the heat because adrenaline and testosterone levels rise in the warmer temperatures.

Some researchers believe that hot climates and less variation in seasonal temperatures lead to a faster “life strategy”, less focus on the future, and less self-control – all of which contribute to more aggression and violence.

If higher temperatures were causing greater crime rates, then we should see crime incidences peak when temperatures are at their highest.

A crime analysis study by Ellen Cohn and James Rotton of Florida State University showed that there is a correlation between crime and heat, but as temperatures rose above 75 – 80℉, crime dropped.

This was proven again in a publication by boston.com of Columbus, Ohio weather in 2007, which found crime rates rose with high temperatures for a given date but fell off once the thermometer registered 85F or above.

This would seem to reinforce a second “community” theory which says that more crime is committed when more people gather in public. The nicer the weather, the more people are outside. Extremely high temperatures could drive people back into the air conditioning.

During the summer months, people spend more time outside, they stay outside, they drink, they have fun and socialize which in turn creates more of an opportunity for interactions of all sorts, including criminal behavior.

One interesting study of Major League Baseball batsmen who had been hit by pitches also offers support for the anger theory. It turns out that more batters are “beaned” by the pitcher when the temperature goes above 90F (above the Cohn/Rotton breaking point).

So we have a lot of suggestive evidence, but much of it somewhat contradictory. We don’t have enough consistent information to be certain that either the aggression hypothesis or the community theory is correct.

Both theories agree, though, that crime waves do generally track heat waves. That could be quite troublesome for the simple reason that if climate change is causing higher average temperatures for most of us, then we should expect the crime rate to rise in coming decades also.

 

Can I plead self-defense to an assault charge?

Can I plead self-defense to an assault charge?

Self-defense is defined as the legal use of force when a person believes it is absolutely necessary to prevent injury or death to his person. Circumstances vary from case to case, but there are general guidelines to follow if you wish to plead self-defense to an assault charge.

Choose a criminal defense attorney who specializes in assault cases. Well-trained lawyers are your best friends when criminal charges are pressed. A good attorney will often know how best to build a case for self-defense and can advise you on what to do.

Explain why assault was the only option. A self-defense argument usually succeeds only if your actions came as a last resort. Be prepared to explain why other means of resolving the situation (such as retreating from the situation or calling the police) were not feasible in your case, and that you risked injury or death if you hadn’t acted immediately.

Point out that a felony was being committed, or that your assailant struck first. You are legally allowed to defend yourself if the other party is committing, or is about to commit, a crime. You may also legally defend yourself if you were attacked before attacking someone yourself. If you can demonstrate either of these two conditions, you may be able to plead self-defense successfully.

Show that the force you used was proportionate to the force with which you were threatened. The law weighs proportion very carefully in these cases. Be prepared to show that you did not escalate the situation and that you fought back using the same means and force with which you were attacked.

Demonstrate that you stopped when your assailant no longer posed a threat. Your ability to plead self-defense successfully may hinge on how much damage you inflicted after your assailant was clearly incapacitated. You should note when you stopped attacking, and be ready to explain why your assailant was still a danger up until that moment.