You may have heard of a gag order before, but you may not know exactly what it is, who is affected by them, and what happens when you violate them.
Here are three things to know about gag orders:
1. What is a Gag Order?
A gag order occurs when a judge makes a ruling that a specific case cannot be discussed outside of the courtroom. This includes speaking of, writing about, or sharing any of the case's information. The main purpose of a gag order is to control publicity and protect the right to a fair trial. This is most common in high profile cases and is aimed at keeping press and other forms of media out of the case. There is often a debate about whether or not gag orders conflict with the first amendment's right to freedom of speech, but judges are careful to restrict only within the proper limits in order to not violate any constitutional rights.
2. Who is Affected By a Gag Order?
Gag orders are directed at both the defendant and prosecuting parties, the lawyers involved, the jurors, and any witnesses that may be testifying during the trial. These parties must adhere to the gag order as a way to restrict what information about the case may become available to media outlets in both civil and criminal cases. Court personnel who are in the courtroom during the trial are also typically expected to follow suit during a gag order.
3. What Happens When You Violate A Gag Order?
Recently, President Trump's former advisor, Roger Stone, was accused of violating a gag order that was placed on him in February as he awaits a trial of his own. Stone turned to social media and aired information that was considered to be under the gag order. According to NBC News online, Stone was charged with eight gag order violations. The article states, "Prosecutors argue that the posts amount to a direct violation of the order that Stone not comment "in the media or in public settings" about his criminal case or the special counsel investigation."
It has yet to be determined if Stone's Instagram posts do in fact violate the gag order. But if they were deemed to be in violation Stone could find himself in a situation where his bail is revoked, causing him to be placed in custody until his trial takes place in November. Other penalties for violating a gag order include jail time, fines, or potentially a stricter gag order to be put into place. Visit next week's blog post to find out more about gag orders and social media.
If you or a loved one are accused of a crime, they may find themselves put under a gag order during the duration of the case. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney to lean on during this period can make the huge difference in how your case is handled. Russell Spatz has decades of experience and is available to advise you on your next move. Give him a call today at (305) 442-0200.
"Legal Dictionary - Law.com." Law.com Legal Dictionary, dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=802.
_DanMangan. "Trump Associate Roger Stone Tells Judge His Instagram Posts Didn't Violate a Gag Order." CNBC, CNBC, 28 June 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/06/27/roger-stone-says-instagram-posts-dont-violate-gag-order.html.
"Roger Stone Violated Gag Order in Mueller Case: Prosecutors." NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/roger-stone-violated-gag-order-mueller-probe-prosecutors-n1020001.