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I'm not sure if this question has already been asked at some point, but searching for a question, and it's answers, seems to not be such an easy feat on here. Soo, here's the specifics of my question:

As the title states: What are the laws, or the specifics, regarding self-incrimination, on the Internet? Specifically, I'm curious about admitting to past illegal activities (for example: underage drinking, or usage of illegal drugs - examples: pills, lsd, coke, etc etc., or just general shenanigans that are done in the privacy of one's own home, and none of the crimes committed were against anyone or anything, brought no harm to anyone, etc. Basically, no danger to the public or society.

Before anyone decides to respond with the obvious: "That's admitting to a crime, it's illegal, don't do it, blah blah blah." But, if you go to any one of the multiple forums and websites where people talk about such things (drugs-forum.com, addforums.com, etc etc), everywhere you look, people are openly admitting to illegal drug usage, people share their experiences and such everywhere on there. And obviously no one is going to jail for it, the websites aren't being shut down. So, is there something that protects people from the legal consequences of these actions?

My question ultimately pertains to this: Can someone write a blog, or share (online, in some way) their personal experiences, life events etc, even if those experiences, and their 'life story' so to speak, includes past illegal activities of these kinds?

Thanks, to anyone who answers my question (answers without the 'troll-y' responses , which I expect I'll get.. Because who can resist, right?)

  • Is it your understanding that there are laws that prohibit you from incriminating yourself ? – user3851 Apr 15 '16 at 22:33
  • Which jurisdiction are you asking about? The "internet" does not have a single governing body and you must specify the jurisdiction you would like answers in respect to. – jimsug Apr 15 '16 at 23:42
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In the US, there are no laws against voluntary self-incrimination – that would violate the First Amendment. So anyone is free to say that they did some good act or some bad act, whether or not they actually did it. You can do this in a park, on the radio, in a book, a private journal, or a web page -- there is nothing legally special about online confession. The only legal restriction on self-incrimination is via the Fifth Amendment, where you cannot be forced to testify against yourself (you cannot even be forced to testify in favor of yourself). If you do elect to confess to some wrongdoing, whatever the venue may be, that statement can be used against you: examples are the Steubenville rape and Derek Medina's murder of his wife. As to why the authorities don't bother to prosecute a kid who brags about getting (illegally) drunk over the weekend, they probably have less than the infinite amount of time needed to ferret out and pursue such cases, especially when there is no independent evidence that a crime was committed (which is kind of a necessary precondition for getting a conviction).

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There's the obvious, the police don't care about minor offences committed many years ago.

The less obvious, except for major crimes, there is generally a statutory time period within which charges must be brought.

And the subtle, where's the evidence? Blogs and forum posts are not made under oath therefore a confession in them is pretty worthless, a simple defence of "I was lying" should get all charges dismissed.

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So, is there something that protects people from the legal consequences of these actions?

The statute of limitations prevents an arrest warrant being issued after the relevant period of time expires.

The legal term for a person who gets online and admits to crimes is a moron.

Such a person could be providing information to establish probable cause for a search warrant as it could match past crime to present behavior.

  • This came up in the low-quality review queue. What is your basis for stating that a person could provide information to establish probable cause for a search warrant? The second line calling this person a moron is not needed. And how is the statute of limitations relevant? Note that I'm not saying that you're wrong, but you haven't even tried to support your answer with proof. – jimsug Apr 15 '16 at 23:43
  • (1) Statute of limitations is relevant because you cannot have an arrest warrant issued after it expires. – user3344003 Apr 16 '16 at 0:05
  • (2) Providing information about a patterns of past crime could be matched to present behavior providing probable cause. – user3344003 Apr 16 '16 at 0:07
  • Okay, so perhaps you should edit your answer to include this information. – jimsug Apr 16 '16 at 0:10
  • (3) The person who posted did not say he had participated in such fora. As such, I did call him a moron, unless, of course, he does participate in such fora. – user3344003 Apr 16 '16 at 0:14

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