Does Following or Liking Your Ex on Social Media Violate the Restraining Order?
Restraining orders are court-issued orders designed to protect a victim of harassment, domestic violence, physical abuse, or stalking from another person. A restraining or protective order requires the restrained person to stay away from the protected person – who is often their former wife or husband following a divorce – and prohibits them from making contact with the victim.
But what happens if the restrained person follows, likes, or sends a private message to the protected person? Does it mean that he or she violated the restraining order?
Can You Violate a Restraining Order Through Social Media Activity?
In Florida, violating a restraining order could result in criminal penalties ranging from large fines to jail time. A “no contact” restraining order prevents the restrained person from making any contact with the protected person, including phone calls, in-person contact, emails, and text messages.
But what about likes and follows on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or another social media platform? Time and time again, U.S. courts have held that interactions on social media networks can violate the terms of a restraining order.
Previous court decisions indicate that sending private messages to the protected individual can constitute a restraining order violation. The same can be said about poking, tagging, mentioning, liking, or following the victim.
Court Cases Involving Restraining Order Violations Through Social Media
We have prepared a roundup of court cases involving social media restraining order violations from all across the United States.
- In 2009, a Tennessee woman was arrested for a Facebook “poke.” According to ABC News, the poke violated a restraining order issued against her by another woman. The court ruled that sending the digital poke to the protected person amounted to a method of communication.
- In 2015, a man who attacked his ex-girlfriend, choked her and dragged her by the hair, violated a restraining order by trying to follow the abused victim on Instagram. He attempted to follow his former girlfriend just four months after a judge issued the order of protection, according to Newsweek. The follow led to criminal charges.
- In 2015, a Pennsylvania man who had a restraining order for stalking a woman got in trouble with the law after he liked the woman’s photos on Facebook. According to the Times Leader, the man was charged with violating the order.
- In 2016, a woman violated a restraining order by tagging her sister-in-law on Facebook. Specifically, the notification that was sent to the protected individual constituted a violation. According to Slate, the woman tagged her sister-in-law in a Facebook post, in which she called her “stupid” and made other unpleasant comments.
Laws are beginning to catch up with modern technology, which is why social media activity that involves communicating with the protected person could be considered a restraining order violation, especially if the order prohibits the restrained person from contacting the victim through any means, including electronically.
Talk to a knowledgeable Orlando divorce attorney if you are being accused of a restraining order violation in Florida after “contacting” the protected individual through social media. Consult with our lawyers at Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee to discuss your options. Call at 407-521-7171 today.