How Social Media Can Affect You in Your Criminal Case

lawyer and client

Nowadays, social platforms are a great part of people’s lives, and around 82% of the population uses social media. That being said, one may think that your privacy setting protects your data from being given to third parties – like for example, a judge. 

However, only your personal data is protected in this case, such as your email, your phone number, or the potential bank information you have linked to your account. Anything that you post there is public – and if you are going through a criminal case, the following aspects of social media may affect you. 

1. Pictures

Pictures posted on social media can also affect your criminal case, especially if they are incriminating. This applies to posted and tagged pictures alike – it doesn’t matter who posted them, as long as they may be used against you in court. Even pictures from your travel blog can incriminate you if they find them on your social media account.

For example, let’s say that you face criminal charges for assault, and you claim that you haven’t seen the victim in years. Still, there is a picture posted by the victim several months ago, in which you two have drinks at the bar. At this point, it doesn’t even matter if you are not guilty – it matters that you lied.

Even if the pictures have been deleted after getting charged with the crime, it does not mean that they are completely gone. A request made to the network can help recover the deleted information, as long as there is a warrant for it. Social media networks are required by the law to give away this evidence if it is needed in a criminal investigation. 

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2. Posts

There should be a clause in the law, saying “anything you post can and will be used against you in a court of law” – because frankly, that’s true. Social media posts have the same power that words do, and they can negatively impact your criminal case. 

For example, let’s say that you were caught in an altercation with someone, and then you were charged with assault. All the while, you are probably claiming that it was self-defense and that you did not start the fight. This is why criminal defense attorneys advise that you are careful about your social media posts, and the things that you claim there; a Facebook comment fight in a post can easily be branded as a “motive.”

social media post

Going through your posts, the officers found that just the day before, you made a post where you told your followers and the public that you hate that person and that you’d wish to cause them harm. It might be a joke, but the prosecution is entitled to use this in court, showing your state of mind. You’ll be deemed as the aggressor because you already expressed the intent. 

3. Check-Ins

Pretty much every social media platform has a check-in feature, which most users take advantage of. People share their locations for different reasons, most of which are purely psychological. Some share their location simply as a way to get attention from their followers. Others do it because they receive a sense of security when their close friends know where they are.

That being said, a check-in at the wrong time can make things more complicated if you have been accused of a crime. For instance, if a crime has been committed, a check-in can prove that you were in the area when it went under. The opposite may also happen if the victim checked in your area or tagged you in that check-in. 

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Even if you may be innocent of the crime, the location sharing may put you in a bad spot and incriminate you. Even if your profile is private, it may still be monitored, if the law asks for it. Even if it doesn’t, refusing to give access may raise red flags, giving the authorities the impression that you are trying to hide something. 

4. Deleting the Account

You’ve heard it everywhere that if you are going through a criminal case, you should limit your social media consumption, lest you compromise your case. Many people take this opportunity to delete their account altogether: “If I can’t use it anyway, I might as well delete it.”

However, this may eventually come to haunt you back. If you decide to delete your social media account all of a sudden, you will appear guilty in front of the jury – even if you may not be. It can look as if you are trying to destroy evidence, which will put you in a bad light. 

The Bottom Line

Being active on social media may not seem like such a big deal nowadays, but the wrong post at the wrong time can compromise your criminal case results. If you’ve been charged with criminal offenses, you might want to avoid using social media, at least until the case settles.

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