The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many work meetings to online platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet, but just because the meetings are virtual doesn’t mean you should abandon ordinary office decorum. Most importantly, this shift to remote meetings certainly doesn’t mean that criminal laws no longer apply from a legal standpoint. Remember that saying or doing anything against the law under ordinary circumstances is just as illegal over Zoom — and you could be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
Potentially Criminal Zoom Behavior
By now, everyone has heard about journalist Jeffrey Toobin’s tremendously embarrassing Zoom mistake in which he exposed himself to colleagues during a work call. Toobin was fired from his job at The New Yorker, but no criminal charges arose from the incident. That said, indecent exposure is a crime in most jurisdictions and prohibits the intentional exposure of one’s private parts in public. While Toobin’s situation didn’t appear to involve intent, it’s an important reminder that inappropriate online behavior could lead to criminal consequences.
In the same vein, any other type of behavior that is illegal offline should also be avoided during online conference calls. Most obviously, law enforcement can build a case against you based on video evidence of any on-camera illegal drug use, child abuse, or domestic battery – or could even lead to further investigation of a murder. This behavioral caveat also includes saying anything that could be construed as a threat of violence, which could lead to a charge of making terroristic threats.
Of course, aside from exhibiting criminal behavior on Zoom, it is important to know that hacking into a Zoom call is also a crime, colloquially called “Zoombombing.” Federal prosecutors have vowed to pursue charges for “disrupting a public meeting, computer intrusion, using a computer to commit a crime, hate crimes, fraud, or transmitting threatening communications.” Potential penalties are severe and include prison time and fines.
If you’ve been arrested for something you said or did on Zoom or another online meeting platform, you should get an experienced attorney on your side as soon as possible. Whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor charge, your rights must be protected. Contact Razumich & Associates online or at 317-449-8657 to speak about your case.