While social media is a place to share our thoughts and life updates, it’s essential to understand the repercussions that even a “harmless” post can have. Whether you’re posting pictures on your Facebook feed or sending a direct message through Instagram, you need to understand how content shared on these and similar platforms can impact a criminal defense case.
- Your Social Media Posts Can Be Used As Evidence Against You. Whether you’re sharing a rant, a few photos, or checking in at a location, your social media activity can be used by the court as evidence against you. According to Forbes, “courts today are more than willing to admit social media content as a form of evidence both for and against you.” Something as innocent as a photo of you and your friends having a beer at a sports bar can be twisted into something as serious as evidence that you have an alcohol problem. Assume that what you post could be used for the worst. And if you’re involved in a criminal case, a good rule of thumb is usually to not post anything (including “private” messages).
- You Might Assume Something is Private When It’s Not. In a recent article about social media and legal cases, Forbes advised to “never assume that anything you share online (publicly or in private messages) is fully confidential….If you are involved in any case or proceeding, or even a case or proceeding that is reasonably foreseeable, think twice before posting anything that can be self-incriminating or used against you in the courtroom.” Even posts or messages marked as “private” can be uncovered and obtained by people who know how. And even deleted content can almost always be recovered.
- Public Social Media Posts Do Not Count As Illegally Obtained Evidence. This means that at any time the court (or the opposing party in your criminal case) can present your public social media posts as evidence against you. Forbes reports that, contrary to popular belief, it is completely legal to use communications garnered from social media sites as evidence. Judge Michael Corriero explains that “the prohibition against using illegally obtained evidence applies primarily, essentially solely, to law enforcement. It doesn’t apply to another civilian.” And although it is perhaps counter-intuitive, this rule applies for private or direct messages on social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp too. If you’re at risk of criminal convictions, a good rule to follow is to not post or message anything that you wouldn’t mind the whole world hearing.
- Your Friends Post Something That Can Be Used As Evidence. Even if you are being aware and careful about what you post on your own accounts, remember that something your friends or family posts can be as equally incriminating. Even if you’re not tagged in the photos that your friends post, the opposing attorney can easily look through your friends’ social media content for anything that could be used against you.
- You Make the Mistake of Trying to Delete Something On Social Media During Your Trial or After Being Accused. Just like attempts to hide physical evidence would be seen as suspicious, attempts to delete social media posts while your case is in progress will also be a red flag to the courts. Experts writing for Forbes strongly advise against deleting anything during your case. Judges will see this as evidence that you were trying to hide evidence that would incriminate you. And remember that often, deleted content can be recovered. It’s also highly likely that someone you know would have seen the content before you deleted it, and they could be called upon as a witness. According to Forbes, even “permanently” deleted content can be recovered using new-gen forensic recovery methods.
According to LegalMatch, many kinds of criminal charges can arise from social media posts. Text, photos, tags, and videos of any kind can implicate your involvement in a crime. Remember that social media can be used against you even if you are innocent.
Are you facing criminal charges in McAllen, Texas? Don’t risk facing the lifelong consequences of being convicted for a crime. At the Tijerina Law Firm, our goal is to get your charges dropped! Are you wondering if something that’s been posted on social media can be used against you in court? Or maybe you’ve posted something you regret and you need help navigating the situation effectively. You have every right to an experienced, caring, and efficient criminal defense attorney. Don’t hesitate to claim the legal help you deserve. Get started by calling (956) 261-5609 or by sending a message online.
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