Most people don’t consider the legal implications of something as mundane as posting pictures to Instagram or writing an update on Facebook. Social media is so normal that we forget about the negative repercussions that even a casual, “harmless” post can have.
But if you’re facing any kind of criminal charges, think again before using social media. Social media can be a game-changer when it comes to criminal cases – here are five reasons why:
- Social Media Posts Can Legally Count As Evidence Against You. Whether you’re describing your day, sharing a few photos, or checking in at a location, your social media activity can be used by the court 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).
- Something You Assume Is Private Can Be Made Public. 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 deleted content and posts or messages marked as “private” can be uncovered and obtained by people who know how.
- The “Illegally Obtained Evidence” Argument Doesn’t Usually Work for Social Media Posts. 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, it’s a good idea to not post or message anything that you wouldn’t mind the whole world hearing.
- Deleted Posts Can Be Seen As Suspicious. Don’t assume you can just delete anything you don’t want the judges to use against you. 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 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.
- Someone Else Posts Something Incriminating. Things can get out of control fast! Even if you are being aware and careful about what you post on your own accounts, friends or family can post something incriminating – regardless of intentions. Even if you’re not tagged in the photos that your friends post, the opposing attorney can look through your friends’ social media content for anything that could be used against you.
Regardless if you are innocent or guilty, social media can make your case decidedly more complex. According to LegalMatch, many kinds of criminal charges can arise from social media posts. Text, photos, tags, and videos of any kind can imply your involvement in a crime.
Has something been posted on social media that you fear will be used against you? Have you posted something you regret and now need help navigating the situation effectively? No matter your situation, you’re entitled to experienced and effective legal representation.
If you’re facing criminal charges in the White Plains, NY area, don’t risk the lifelong consequences of a criminal conviction. Darren DeUrso will make it a personal goal to get justice for your case! Contact a criminal defense attorney you can trust at 914.772.8614 or online.
Darren DeUrso, Attorney at Law
188 East Post Road, Suite 300
White Plains, NY 10601