Do you really think stuff you say online could come back to haunt you?

This is a discussion on Do you really think stuff you say online could come back to haunt you? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I ask this question specifically regarding the commentary that often appears in discussions on this forum. Some people have warned that if one of us ...

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Thread: Do you really think stuff you say online could come back to haunt you?

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array peacefuljeffrey's Avatar
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    Question Do you really think stuff you say online could come back to haunt you?

    I ask this question specifically regarding the commentary that often appears in discussions on this forum.

    Some people have warned that if one of us were to have to use a firearm in self defense, that somehow it could come back to haunt him that he might have talked on here about how the bad guys don't deserve to live, and how it's a good thing when bad guys are killed by good guys, etc. He might have swaggered a bit about how he doesn't fire warning shots, or wouldn't shout out "freeze" but would instead just shoot if he knew he was justified.

    Honestly, I don't buy it.

    I just don't see how it would come up. You might get charged and taken to trial over your defensive gun use, sure. But the case is going to depend on whether you acted justifiably based on the self defense laws of your state. Those facts won't be altered by what you might have said in the past. A clear-cut case of self defense is not gonna tank just because you may have said something about how you'd love to get your hands on a criminal vermin and give him what's coming to him grrr grrr grrr -- and that's assuming that such statements would ever BE found and attributed to you in the first place. And I don't know how they would go about somehow connecting the statements to the shooter unless he volunteered the fact that he had made them, and told the prosecutor what website to go and look at!

    I mean, has anyone ever heard of such a thing coming to pass? That a guy was strung up because of something he said on a site like DC? And how'd the court find out and connect the statement to the shooter? Do the prosecutors make a habit of going around scouring the internet for anything and everything that may have ever been said by the accused related to the crime, even if nothing about the crime involved the internet? (I can see it if the crime had to do with using the internet in order to accomplish the crime, but not if it had nothing to do with the charge.)

    What do you think?

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  3. #2
    Ex Member Array Joe R's Avatar
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    I think this issue ranks in paranoia right up there with not putting any gun stickers on your car because you might get robbed or whatever.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    A "history" is of interest to both the prosecution and defense. That's so, whether that history is a series of actions or comments made to neighbors and friends over the course of a few years, or whether in writings made by the person. If the comments show a clear predisposition or line of thinking that strongly supports an argument being made in the case, I think it's safely said that those comments would be scrutinized. To think otherwise is simply not appreciating what material legal cases often hinge on.

    In a recent LFI course (M. Ayoob) I attended, a couple of people who were attorneys mentioned they had actually gone hunting for written comments made by participants in cases they had been involved with, that such comments were frequently sought and used as any other evidence would be used. Paranoia? Two separate attorneys indicated it was common practice, like any other written material from a witness or participant would be. Ayoob, himself, also warned that such statements could be part of the material sought by either prosecution or defense.

    It comes to this: if such prior actions or statements show a tendency, bias, predisposition toward certain action or even outright planning of doing something, you can bet it's going to be of interest to someone in a case, if there's any question in the righteousness of the position be claimed. Common sense dictates we at least consider the possibility, when rushing to make claims about how we think, what we'd do, what we're planning, and so on.
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    I am not going to worry about it.I believe in certain things and I am willing to
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    Senior Member Array Andy W.'s Avatar
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    Most people don't use their real names on these boards, who's to say who wrote what?
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy W. View Post
    Most people don't use their real names on these boards, who's to say who wrote what?
    Your internet service provider's records, and the records of the web/ftp sites you visit. Those are based on the trail that exists from the moment you connect to any web/ftp site. Doesn't matter that your visible "handle" (name) is vague.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
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    In a criminal prosecution, it seems unlikely unless your computer was seized, in which case the forensic examiners would probably be able to determine which boards you frequent.

    A civil suit is a completely different animal. Many civil attorneys are becoming more internet savvy, and it is a trivial matter to ask about forum memberships during discovery.

    Matt
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    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    If they can dig it up and use it against you, they certainly will. The Civil plaintiffs' attorny/PI may even dig deeper than a prosecuter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattLarson View Post
    In a criminal prosecution, it seems unlikely unless your computer was seized, in which case the forensic examiners would probably be able to determine which boards you frequent.

    A civil suit is a completely different animal. Many civil attorneys are becoming more internet savvy, and it is a trivial matter to ask about forum memberships during discovery.

    Matt

    You don't have to be a computer forensics expert to link who's who on message boards. This topic has almost been beat to death on other boards! IIRC it ends with people saying "yes it can be done, and I will or will not take the risk."

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    To (loosley) quote one Ayoob's in one of the old tapes: "Trial law is the last true bloodsport." Those who have never gone through a long litigation process might not believe how deep some lawyers will dig to obtain anything that might be used, twisted, spun and/or distorted to support their case ...

    On the other hand, I think it should also be recognized that some of the issues may often be "regional". What might be quite a concern in New England could be trivial in the Southwest (excluding Cali).

    Fortunately, Tejas recently joined some other states where prosecutors and ambulance chasers will have much tougher rows to hoe in the aftermath of lawful self defense. But, at the same time, I still don't think it's necessarily "paranoia" to be vigiilant of what is being stated to avoid the risk of a "good shoot" being made bad by one's mouth - or keyboard.
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    Senior Member Array Andy W.'s Avatar
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    I didn't realize how easily we could be tracked on the internet, I'm a printer guy, not a computer guy. It's a good thing that the majority of what is discussed here is safety, training and avoidance of conflict. That could be used in our defense.
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  13. #12
    Ron
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    Quote Originally Posted by peacefuljeffrey View Post
    Some people have warned that if one of us were to have to use a firearm in self defense, that somehow it could come back to haunt him that he might have talked on here about how the bad guys don't deserve to live, and how it's a good thing when bad guys are killed by good guys, etc. He might have swaggered a bit about how he doesn't fire warning shots, or wouldn't shout out "freeze" but would instead just shoot if he knew he was justified.

    Honestly, I don't buy it.

    I just don't see how it would come up. You might get charged and taken to trial over your defensive gun use, sure. But the case is going to depend on whether you acted justifiably based on the self defense laws of your state. Those facts won't be altered by what you might have said in the past. A clear-cut case of self defense is not gonna tank just because you may have said something about how you'd love to get your hands on a criminal vermin and give him what's coming to him grrr grrr grrr -- and that's assuming that such statements would ever BE found and attributed to you in the first place. And I don't know how they would go about somehow connecting the statements to the shooter unless he volunteered the fact that he had made them, and told the prosecutor what website to go and look at!

    I mean, has anyone ever heard of such a thing coming to pass? That a guy was strung up because of something he said on a site like DC? And how'd the court find out and connect the statement to the shooter? Do the prosecutors make a habit of going around scouring the internet for anything and everything that may have ever been said by the accused related to the crime, even if nothing about the crime involved the internet? (I can see it if the crime had to do with using the internet in order to accomplish the crime, but not if it had nothing to do with the charge.)

    What do you think?
    You could not be more wrong. If what you wrote was recovered, and I am not saying it could because I am not sufficiently knowledgable about computers, it could be used to attempt to establish a frame of mind, and possibly refute your claim of self defense, fear for your life, etc.

    You could be making a fatal mistake by assuming:1) that what you write is not discoverable by the government; and 2) that, even if discovered, it would have no relevance in the trial.

    Ron
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    VIP Member Array miklcolt45's Avatar
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    Ron, thanks for chiming in.

    The opinion of a law professor (retired or not!) carries a lot more weight for me than the opinion of laity (like myself) on this issue.

    That's what I love about this forum. LOTS of information from folks far more knowledgeable than me.
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    Distinguished Member Array bandit383's Avatar
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    I've seen computers seized as part of an investigation (not gun related) and subpoenas to site administrators have been known to occur. I believe statements one makes can be used against them...including websites...why then is it that the conventional wisdom if one is involved in a shooting to say nothing to LEOs and news until talking with a lawyer?

    Rick

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    Member Array Wolf357's Avatar
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    The best Internet policy one can follow is simply not to post anything you might regret later.
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