Think Before You Post: What You Put Online Can Lead To Jail Time

A lot of people think that their right to free speech is broader than it really is, and in this age of electronic messaging and personal expression through social media, it is very easy to get yourself into trouble through mere words. For that matter, it doesn't always take words to land you in court. Before you hit "post" on your favorite social media site, learn how a picture can be worth jail time.

Expressing yourself with emoji.

Emoji -- those little pictographs and smiley faces that are used in text messages and on social media to convey a user's thoughts and feelings without the need for a drawn-out message -- were recently involved in the arrest of a Brooklyn teenager for making terrorist threats against the police. His actions included posting emoji images of guns pointed at the head of an emoji policeman on his social media page.

Making a threat of physical harm against another person -- even when you don't intend to carry it through -- is a criminal action. Terrorist threats usually go beyond ordinary criminal threats, in that they are designed to affect either a large group of people or are directed at the government -- in this case, in the form of the police.

Posting the wrong photo of your pet.

A lot of people use their social media sites to post pictures of their pets. Most of the pictures are of the dogs and cats being cute, but it can be funny to see the results when pets misbehave as well. Whole websites are devoted to "dog shaming" photos that expose pets behaving badly.

However, some people take the idea a little too far. In a show of questionable judgment, a North Carolina woman posted a photo of her dog with his mouth taped shut for barking too much. A huge online outcry arose and she was subsequently arrested and charged with animal cruelty.

Poking the wrong person.

An online "poke" is represented by a little hand with its finger extended. It's meant as an informal "hello" or a way of saying that you're thinking of another person.

Sometimes, however, it's better to keep your thoughts to yourself. A Tennessee woman who used social media to "poke" an acquaintance. Unfortunately, she and her acquaintance were on less-than-friendly terms -- and the poke actually was in violation of an order of protection that prohibited her from communicating with or contacting the other woman. The odds are good that she didn't realize that her non-verbal poke would land her in jail, or she wouldn't have done it.

If your use of social media has gotten you into trouble, contact an attorney, like those at the Law Offices Of Jerald Silvia, right away for representation.