Social media lets users share big and small details of their lives with friends, families and followers. In turn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other popular platforms also enable users to keep track of people. This is how it works in the modern era.
Those charged with a crime may want to proclaim their innocence or tell their side of the story. They may feel the need to vent their frustration, anger and fears, if nothing else. It can sound good in the short term, but it could haunt the defendant.
The wrong people may be paying attention
While there are benefits, some risks come with social media use, particularly for those facing criminal charges. There are two reasons for this.
- The investigators: It is now standard practice to use online platforms to learn as much as possible about the suspect. They seek evidence of criminal behavior that corroborates or expands their investigation. They use what they learn to help build their case.
- The prosecution: These attorneys also look online to see what they find. They will look for evidence that contradicts the defendant’s claims in court.
Don’t count on privacy protections
Many people falsely believe that the Fourth Amendment protects them against unreasonable searches and seizures. While some evidence could be inadmissible, online information is often not protected, even when the privacy settings are on. In fact, the information available for public viewing need not require a subpoena. Moreover, law enforcement is responsible for nearly half of all requests for information from Google regarding private citizens. Law enforcement may poke around online, see something suspicious, and then expand into a full-fledged investigation.
You can fight these charges
Some like to drive traffic by posting controversial material, but it is best to refrain from this behavior before or during a case. Handing incriminating evidence to the prosecution is never a winning strategy.
Those with questions about their case should consult a seasoned criminal defense attorney. They understand what is not admissible in court and poke holes in the prosecution arguments based on suspect online content, innuendo and gossip.