If someone posts on an on-line social site regarding a criminal investigation, how do they avoid libel and jeopardizing the case?

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If someone posts on an on-line social site regarding a criminal investigation, how do they avoid libel and jeopardizing the case?

I had a friend who was beaten badly by the owner and some employees of a local restaurant/bar. His friends have started a Facebook page to boycott the business, but they are not sure what they can legally say without jeopardizing his case. Since the people who started the page are not directly involved in the incident or the investigation in any way, is there anything legally that they cannot say? Can the victim be held responsible for the comments and such on the page?

Asked on December 28, 2010 under Criminal Law, Arkansas

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Although it is admirable that they want to support their friend, they should really re-think posting anything on line about the incident or the business until such time as the investigation has been completed, the charges filed and possibly the conclusion of the matter.  Posting the facts as they unfold and are discussed by the police is fine.  Giving their opinion can also be fine.  Yes, there are free speech protections and all that but his case should take priority.  Swaying public opinion may not be the best in getting a fair and impartial jury as well and you need that to insure that justice is had here.  Support can be had in many different ways.  Good luck.


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