Facebook has been in the news recently because of concerns about private information being accessed by third parties. Our Erie criminal defense team felt it was an appropriate time to review the dangers of using social media, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, after being charged with a crime. One post could seriously inhibit an attorney from presenting a strong defense to criminal charges, thereby resulting in a less than desired outcome.
How Can Social Media Hurt My Criminal Defense?
Anything you say can potentially be used against you, including what you say online. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors understand the power of social media. Some students begin posting to social media accounts as soon as they wake up each morning, throughout the day during classes, and in the evening. You can track everything they do on any given day by following them on social media sites. Furthermore, friends who post and tag friends add additional information.
When you are involved in a criminal case, what you post online could potentially incriminate you. For instance, if you are charged with underage drinking on a college campus, pictures from the party could be used as evidence against you in your criminal case. Comments by you or your friends about the level of intoxication, hangover remedies, or what you did while you were drunk may be very persuasive to a jury.
How Can Law Enforcement Officials Obtain My Social Media Posts?
As we have learned, privacy settings are not always effective at keeping information from becoming public. Pictures and comments you post or someone posts about you could be shared and reposted. Even items you erase may not be gone forever.
In some cases, law enforcement officers or prosecutors may be granted access to social media accounts in a criminal case. Defendants may be required to turn over information regarding posts. Something that appears to be very innocent or even a joke could be misconstrued if presented to a jury. Therefore, it can be very risky to use social media during a criminal case.
Tips for Using Social Media If You Are Charged with a Crime
Don’t post anything on social media! That is the safest way to protect yourself according to our PA criminal defense attorneys. If you do not post anything online, there is nothing for the prosecution to find. However, we recognize that many college students, juveniles, and adults will continue to utilize social media even though they have a criminal case pending. Therefore, you need to take steps to protect yourself when posting online:
- Do not discuss the criminal charges or any events related to the charges.
- Do not discuss any criminal activity after the charges.
- Avoid posting any pictures.
- Review your security settings to ensure they are set at the highest levels for maximum privacy. Do not allow friends to “tag” you in pictures or posts without your permission.
- Avoid commenting about law enforcement or criminal offenses.
- Discuss your social media accounts with your attorney, including whether to delete information or accounts. Deleting information without discussing the matter with your attorney could be construed as trying to hide evidence.
Call an Erie Criminal Defense Attorney for Help
Everything you do and say from the moment of your arrest through the resolution of your case can impact your defense. Call our Erie defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Having an attorney on your side as quickly as possible gives you a better chance of a more positive outcome in your criminal case.