The Letter of the Law

Social Media And Your Criminal Case: What's At Stake?

At the time of an arrest, defendants are always told that anything they say or do can be held against them in court. It's important to keep the same concept in mind when it comes to your social media activities, as your posts can be used as evidence long after your initial arrest.

Public Information

Social media accounts are a part of the public domain; there is no need for the prosecution to secure a search warrant to view and collect information from your social media account that is openly viewable. As a result, the prosecution can use the details you post online as a way to support their case against you. 

Take someone on trial for a violent crime, for instance. If their social media account is full of violent threats and pictures with weapons in the background, the prosecution would undoubtedly use this information to disprove any idea that the defendant did not have violent tendencies. 

Private Accounts

There is no such thing as a private account when it comes to the prosecution. If your profile is set to private, it is still accessible by the prosecution, especially if any element of the case is hinged on your actions online. For example, consider an instance of domestic violence in which the victim claims the accused began harassing them online. 

In this instance, the prosecution could obtain a search warrant to access the individuals' social media account, including any messages they sent. The warrant could even give the prosecution access to deleted files. Everything the person ever posted could be used to support the prosecution's case.

Protecting Yourself

If you have been charged with a crime, it's a good idea to take a break from social media. In the same manner that the prosecution can use old information to prove your case, they can also use the information you post while your case is still being tried in court. A disparaging post about the prosecution and a picture with known criminals are just some of the social media exchanges that can be used against you.

Should you decide to continue to utilize your social media account, make sure that you think about everything you post and how it can come back to hurt you in the long run. 

Be mindful of the things you post online, and in the event that you are facing a charge, speak with a criminal lawyer to learn how you can protect yourself going forward.