Loss of Privacy And Arrest in Texas: Hurting Your Job, Your Relationships, Your Life
You can be arrested under either federal or state law here in Texas. We’ve discussed how those two systems work side by side here in Dallas, Fort Worth, and North Texas. For more on the process of being detained, arrested, and released on bail, read:
- Out on Bail: Pre-Trial Conditions in Dallas, Fort Worth, and North Texas;
- Arrested in Texas: Resisting Arrest, Evading Arrest, Detained Without Arrest;
- How To Get Out of Jail on a Federal Charge: Federal Arrest, Bail, and PreTrial Detention.
Freedom and Privacy: Two Separate Concerns
Pre-trial detention is a serious matter, and anyone who is facing criminal charges will want to be out of jail and freed, pending trial, as soon as possible. However, as part of that release as well as part of the investigation by prosecutors – and even in the arrest itself, your privacy can be invaded.
It’s legal. It’s part of the process. It can be a way for you to be hurt by police and law enforcement with impunity.
Innocent people have been arrested by law enforcement and suffered serious harm. How?
Release of private information, as well as revelation that they have been investigated or arrested and charged, can change lives.
Reputations can be ruined. People won’t look at them the same way. Jobs can be lost. Relationships can end. See the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of this problem in “As Arrest Records Rise, Americans Find Consequences Can Last a Lifetime; Even if Charges Were Dropped, a Lingering Arrest Record Can Ruin Chances of a Job.”
Be Aware of Law Enforcement’s Ability to Invade Your Life
From a criminal defense perspective, part of defending a client means recognizing this reality and helping to minimize the long-lasting impact that an arrest can have on them. It’s important for everyone to know that the reality is this: just being picked up by the police can mean permanent damage to your life.
Snooping Into Your Personal and Private Life
When someone is arrested, there can be serious consequences. Why? Because your privacy is invaded and law enforcement snoops around in all sorts of areas of your life. Things that have nothing to do with the charges you are facing. Consider the following:
1. Your Phone and the Police
The Fourth Amendment protects your privacy. It states that the police have to get the okay from a judge via a search warrant before they can search and seize. However, where the line is drawn for phone’s today is still be debated in the courts.
Phones in Your Possession When Stopped by the Police
The police and the prosecutors are going to want to check out everything on your phone. After all, today’s phones are little computers with tons of storage. There can be photos, videos, emails, maps, and more on the phone. Things that law enforcement will want to use as evidence in their case. Things that they hope may build their case, or even bring new charges against you.
So, anything on your phone is vulnerable to being seen and used by the police and the District Attorney (or U.S. Attorney). For more, read:
- The Police And Your Phone: Invasion Of Privacy By Police;
- Texas Police Can Get Your Phone Records From Phone Company Without A Warrant: Ford v. State.
What If You Have A Password On Your Phone?
Remember the big fight to get access to the cell phone information contained on the California terrorist’s IPhone?
After the San Bernardino shooting, the FBI found a phone – but it was locked with a password. There was a huge court fight between the federal government and Apple, Inc., over getting access to that password so the federal agents could access the phone’s files and information. See this LA Times article for details, “Apple-FBI battle over San Bernardino terror attack investigation: All the details.”
And for more on the law involved, read our post, “Privacy Of Your Smart Phone: Police Search And Seizure And Apple’s Fight Against The FBI.”
2. Social Media
You may have lots of personal information stored online with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, or Tumblr. Stuff that goes back years, maybe. Even if you have a private account, or have sent private messages, this doesn’t guarantee that law enforcement cannot access this stuff without a warrant.
Federal Child Pornography Charges Often Involve Federal Surveillance of Online Communications, Personal Email Records, Stored Computer Files;
Child Porn Charges: Busted By FBI Computer Surveillance and Now, Private Web Hackers on Social Media.
Maybe they maneuver their way into befriending you in social media. Maybe they just ask one of your buddies to let them into your private account via his access.
Then they can use this stuff against you. Or just reveal it. Maybe they don’t use it in your case, but the stuff gets shared with your mother, your father, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your boss.
Investigations pull in lots of things that don’t end up used in the prosecution. Doesn’t mean it’s kept secret.
How to Protect Your Life From Damage Via Law Enforcement Privacy Invasion
The police have a right to investigate crimes and protect the public safety. However, their police powers are limited.
Your first protection is to get an advocate fighting on your behalf to insure that these constitutional barricades are being respected if you are being investigated by the police. This can also help in keeping the awareness of an ongoing investigation from harming your professional or personal relationships.
Even if employers have legal requirements on how they treat someone who has a criminal record, do you think bosses treat people differently who they learn have been investigated by police for things like drug possession or distribution, possession of porn, sexual assault or rape, family violence? Rumors have power.
2. Arrest and Charge
If you have been arrested and charged, then your lawyer can review the evidence against you as well as the file being compiled by the prosecution. He can negotiate on your behalf, and he can move the court to suppress evidence that was illegally or improperly obtained. Motions to Suppress are filed all too often in a criminal defense practice.
The catch: a successful motion to suppress keeps the stuff from being used against you, but it doesn’t work to erase the impact of its discovery. Evidence that has been revealed in court can’t be put back in the bottle.
The sad truth is that lives can be damaged and people seriously hurt by the investigation and arrest process. Finger pointing on some charges alone is enough to hurt a reputation and ruin relationships. Taboo subjects like sexual assault, family violence, or child porn mean that even the suggestion that you are being investigated may make many people assume your guilt and treat you differently.
3. Be Proactive
First of all, surveillance defense is legal and smart. Doing things like using passwords on your phone and understanding encryption is needed for anyone using a phone or enjoying social media today. See, the “Tips, Tools and How-tos for Safer Online Communications” provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for more.
But if you have any concerns — just a gut call, even — that you are being investigated by law enforcement for any serious crime, then it’s time to do more. It is wise to act proactively to protect your life and the lives of your loved ones if you believe you’re at risk of being arrested and charged. Don’t wait.
This isn’t a question of you being innocent and there not being any evidence against you.
Get involved and get a criminal defense attorney to work with you on addressing what may or may not be happening. Is someone watching you? Is someone monitoring your computer or social media? What are they thinking you may be up to, and if word got out, what would your employer think, or your school, or your spouse?
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