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Police investigating hate crimes via social media

As you are likely aware, the election of Donald Trump has been greeted with tremendous passion among both those who are in favor of the new president-elect and those who view him unfavorably. And one of the offshoots of this controversial election has been an increased focus on hate crimes.

 

The state attorney general's office reports that this year there has been a 10.4 percent uptick over 2015 in the number of reported hate crimes in California. Of particular concern is the increase of incidents targeting Muslims.

Reportedly, California law enforcement agencies are hoping to curtail the number of hate crimes occurring in the state. One method that San Francisco and Los Angeles authorities are employing involves monitoring social media sites. The idea is to look for comments that could be deemed as threats or may reveal the intention of committing a hate crime. The authorities can then act on those threats they believe may be credible.

While the intent of such actions may be well-intended, there is also the danger of making mistakes. For instance, it is quite possible for a person to post something on Twitter or Facebook that is meant figuratively, rather than literally and for those words to trigger an investigation. And if the authorities begin to actively engage in discourse with someone on social media, there is the potential for creating an entrapment situation.

If you should be arrested or investigated for allegedly committing a hate crime or making criminal threats, it is critical that you have a strong defense prepared. Just being accused of a hate crime could have a damaging effect on your reputation. And a conviction could mean a prison sentence. As such, you likely could benefit greatly by having an experienced criminal attorney help you answer the charges.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "Cops are going undercover and watching social media to combat hate crimes," James Queally, Veronica Rocha, Nov. 28, 2016

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