Anything You Say Or Tweet Will Be Used Against You in a Court of Law
It's no secret that millennials, like any other generation, like to drive fast in their first years as licensed drivers. We have an almost George Costanza-like desire to make good time from Point A to Point B. For many of us this obsession leads to speeding tickets or close calls with screeching brakes, but for 18-year-old Cody Hall, his obsession with speeding has allegedly ended in a fatal crash. According to police, Hall was going over 80miles per hour in a 40-mph zone and lost control of his vehicle, triking and killing Diana Hersevoort and injuring her husband Johannes Hersevoort. Normally a tragedy like this would lead to the charge of vehicular manslaughter and in this case it did. That is, until police found Hall's history of bragging about his speeding on Twitter, and upgraded the charge to murder. These tweets seem to be enough to prove "implied malice," and this case is a startling reminder that social media isn't just a place for fun.
For the government to have upgraded the charge, prosecutors must believe they can prove "implied malice," which means they believe Hall "engaged in an intentional, unlawful act done with conscious disregard for the risk to human life." In order to make this case the prosecution is using tweets sent from an accounted registered to Hall, including those saying, "Drive fast live young," bragging about going 140 mph on Interstate 5, and "Someone come on a death ride with me !!!" This information will be entered as a "pre-offense statement" as an effort to prove malice. In an effort to curb the damage Hall's Twitter account is no longer public. However, the damage is already done.
It becomes obvious that Hall is aware of his speeding, and has taken enough pride in his violation that he openly tweets about it. He has an affinity for speeding. Now when you couple tweets of that nature alongside tweets about death rides, whether they are joking or not it shows that Hall is aware that speeding can have potentially fatal consequences. These tweets have increased Hall's charges, effectively changing the range of possible punishments from up to nine years in prison for manslaughter, to 15-to-life for the murder charge and an additional three years and eight months for the reckless-driving charge.
This case should be a red flag for our social-media-oriented generation. Just because the flashing blue and red lights aren't in your rear-view mirror doesn't mean all the information you've made public about what you've gotten away with won't be used against you. There's no statute of limitations on a confessed pattern. Actually, better yet, just don't break the law.