Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Internet and the Law

More and more people have come to me with issues related to the Internet. In divorce cases it is not at all unusual to find individuals making statements or providing photographs on social networking websites that are harmful to their case. It is harmful for people seeking custody to talk about or provide information concerning drug use or other inappropriate behavior.

In Illinois the grounds for the dissolution of marriage should not have an impact on the property distribution. That being said risky Internet dating behavior could have an impact in a custody fight. Exposing children to strangers or people you have only met online can be risky behavior.

Another common issue relates to online auctions. I collect unusual items. Thus, I spend time on online auctions. I have been involved with a number of divorce cases where a party will claim to have no income but will have a lot of activity buying and selling on auction websites. This may show an additional source of income, dissipation of marital assets, or simply make you wonder where the money is coming from to buy this stuff.

Criminal law is also impacted by the Internet. People are far more concerned about criminal records. The Internet makes it very easy for employers to discover past convictions or even past charges that may have been dismissed. As a result I have had more calls concerning sealing or expunging criminal records.

It is also risky behavior to post photographs or provide admissions of criminal behavior on line. The government may be able to obtain a subpoena based on the photographs. What you post on the web is not private and you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Over all the Internet is great. It is a useful tool. If not for the Internet you wouldn't be able to read this blog. It is important to read blogs like mine to obtain general information and to have fun. If you have a legal problem talk to a lawyer. Don't apply general advice to a specific problem.