How Social Media Can Affect Your Criminal Case
Many people post to social media with reckless abandon. Photos of what you eat, check-ins where you go, tweets about your views and opinions, or status messages about your weekend plans have all become all-too-commonplace online. Most people fail to consider how police and prosecutors may use information on their social media accounts to lead to arrests and pursue criminal charges against them.
Social media has provided a new – and often convenient – tool for police officers investigating a possible crime. Often, social media accounts can include information or photos that may indicate you were involved in a crime or associate you with other suspected criminals. You would be surprised that some people may post photos of them holding weapons, using drugs, underage drinking, or with others who are suspected or convicted of crimes. Police have successfully used social media posts as evidence to support both search and arrest warrants.
In addition, police have taken many sting operations online. Instead of going physically undercover, police officers may create fake social media profiles to reach out to suspects. If someone believes the profile, they can easily expose themselves as a participant in criminal activity, which can lead to an arrest or charges.
As Evidence Against You
If you have already been charged with a crime, prosecutors may try to use social media information as evidence to prove the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Every time you hear about a school shooting, one of the first pieces of information discussed is what the suspected shooter had on their Twitter or Facebook page. One young woman was convicted a couple years ago of DUI manslaughter and sentenced to 24 years in prison. She had tweeted “2 drunk 2 care” shortly before she caused a deadly drunk driving accident and prosecutors used the tweet as evidence in the case. That woman’s Twitter also proclaimed her to be a “pothead princess” and had other marijuana-related comments.
While you may think your social media posts are innocuous, you would be surprised what police and prosecutors can use against you. Never assume that authorities are not looking at your information online, even if your posts have been deleted or your profile is private. There are still ways for authorities to access this information and – believe us – they will try to use anything possible to secure a criminal conviction.
In this day and age of constant technological advancements and increased online activity, you can never be too careful. You need a defense lawyer who knows how to combat social media evidence and ensure your rights are not violated.