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TEXTING, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND DRUG CHARGES

HOW A PHONE APP IS MESSING WITH DWI CHECKPOINTS

In today’s technologically advanced times, people share every aspect of their lives with the world. Friends on your social media accounts probably post everything from pictures of their breakfast to videos of their cats, but sometimes people don’t stop to think about how the things they share can get them in trouble. You can lose everything from a job to a college scholarship to custody of a child if the authorities read inappropriate things you’ve posted in the past. Even if your account is set to private, that doesn’t mean that law enforcement can’t get a warrant and view it if you’re tangled up in a crime. The same goes for texts you send from your phone. What about if you’re just discussing possible criminal activity, though, and not straight up admitting to anything? There’s still a chance that you could end up doing time or receiving some sort of punishment, depending on what you’ve talked about.

Using illegal drugs as an example, posting or texting about drugs isn’t against the law. You’re not going to have the DEA kicking down your door for texting “I wonder what it’s like to do heroin” to a friend. When it comes to drugs, the possible criminal convictions are for possession, manufacturing, and delivery, dealing or trafficking, and being in possession of drug paraphernalia. Generally, law enforcement officials are more interested in arresting people for selling drugs than arresting them. If the police have suspicions that someone is a drug dealer, and they are able to generate enough probably cause for a warrant, they can check for any communications pertinent to that dealing and use the ensuing evidence in court.

What if you’re the only buying the drugs? You still aren’t necessarily going to escape unscathed. As mentioned above, you won’t be arrested for the act of communicating about drug use, but if there are messages clearly stating that you’ve bought drugs, you might be on the hook for possession. The actual numbers that you’ve dialed or received calls from may be viewed without a search warrant. In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Smith v. Maryland that   Fourth Amendment protections only apply if the individual believes that the government has infringed on their reasonable expectation of privacy. This reasonable expectation of privacy does not apply to the numbers recorded by your phone company, because everyone is well aware that this information is collected. Keep in mind, however, that police still must obtain a search warrant to check your house or car for drugs, and phone numbers or messages alone might not be enough for probable cause.

Even if you’ve never touched drugs in your life, if police find your number in a drug dealer’s phone or messages exchanged between you, you might get called in as a witness in the case.

All in all, it might be safer to just not write down anything having to do with drugs, and keep an eye on who your friends are.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.

 

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