Woman Could Face Jail Time For Tagging Sister-In-Law On Facebook

A woman is facing possible jail time for tagging her former sister-in-law on Facebook in a comment that referred to the woman as being “stupid.”

As with all social media, one should be careful what you say or do on Facebook. Once that post is made, it is out there in the ether and could cause potential legal problems for the poster.

We all know it happens. People get divorced, and sometimes they fight with their former partners or get upset with their previous in laws. In the case of Maria Gonzalez, however, she may have taken things a little too far.

According to a report in the Express Tribune, after a New York judge ruled that even tagging someone on Facebook is electronic communication, Gonzalez is in a whole heap of trouble. Reportedly, Gonzalez had been warned before to keep a low profile and not communicate with her sister-in-law from her previous marriage, Maribel Calderon.

Gonzalez had been placed under a protection order, meaning she could not contact Calderon either verbally or electronically. Turns out, Facebook is an electronic method of contacting someone, hence the problems and the fact that she could, possibly, end up behind bars.

In a recent Facebook post, Gonzalez called her sister-in-law “stupid” and tagged her in the process. She also added the words, “You and your family are sad… You guys have to come stronger than that!! I’m way over you guys but I guess not in ya agenda.”

As a person receives a notification when someone tags them on Facebook, this led to Gonzalez being charged with second-degree criminal contempt for ignoring the advice of the court, which can potentially mean a year in jail.

In her defense, Gonzalez’s court-appointed attorney, Kim Frohlinger, tried to dismiss the charges, telling the court that the protection order did not specifically exclude communications via Facebook.

However, Justice Susan Capeci of the Westchester County Supreme Court disagreed with the attorney. Capeci quoted a phrase in that protection order which reads, “by electronic or any other means” and naturally, Facebook is, indeed, an electronic method of contacting someone.

According to the New York Post, Frohlinger did not immediately reply to a request for comment, but she did say she wouldn’t be appealing the ruling.

The story serves as a warning to all Facebook users. What you think might be a private communication on Facebook can still get you into trouble.


The original protection order against Gonzalez relates to her divorce from Calderon’s brother, Rafael Calderon.

The New York Post quotes Manhattan matrimonial attorney Michael Stutman – who isn’t involved in the current case – as saying the ruling proves one thing: “Everything you post anywhere can possibly be used against you” and that could, indeed, be in a court of law.

Talking Facebook and people getting upset, the founder and CEO of the social media platform is in trouble himself – with his neighbors – and this is reportedly not the first time. Previously, they were upset at the endless construction work carried out at Mark Zuckerberg‘s San Francisco home.

More recently, as reported on the Inquisitr, neighbors are passing a letter around the posh Liberty Hill area complaining that Zuckerberg is allowing two security guard SUVs to park illegally in the much-coveted parking spaces on his street. They reckon the vehicles could be parked in Zuckerberg’s own driveway or even outside his home.

[Photo edited and via Flickr by Todd Barnard/CC BY-SA 2.0]