Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are some of the social media
platforms which are used to connect us with one another and to share our
personal lives online. That is why it is not surprising that law enforcement
is now using social media activity as evidence in ongoing criminal investigations.
Even if you customized your privacy settings on your social media accounts,
it may not protect you from police convincing a judge that access to the
information in your account will disclose evidence of criminal activity.
Fortunately, these sites often will not often provide information about
their users to police without a search warrant, subpoena, or other forms
of court orders. However, if law enforcement lacks probable cause to obtain
such a warrant, they might still be able to gain access to some of your
social media activity without violating any of your rights—typically
by getting a friend or other individual to whom you have granted access
to cooperate with the investigation.
Once social media information is in the hands of prosecutors, its use in
a criminal case is subject to the same rules as are other forms of evidence.
To avoid having your social media activity used against you during an ongoing
criminal investigation, follow these helpful tips to protect yourself:
Do no post anything related to your case – Whether it’s graduating from high school or getting a new
job, your friends and family want to know everything about your life.
However, they do not need to be updated about your criminal case through
social media. It is best to avoid social media altogether until your case
Do not delete your accounts – You may assume that removing potentially incriminating posts will
set you free. However, that type of effort may be a pointless move if
someone else has already seen them or taken screenshots of them. Furthermore,
law enforcement may view this action as a form of destroying evidence,
which can only make matters worse.
Do not let your friends tag you – Even if you do not post anything incriminating, your friends,
family, and connections can. You have little control over when you are
tagged or included in a post shared by another friend. To be on the safe
side, disallow tags and mentions or filter them before they appear for
others to see on your profile.
If you are facing criminal charges, the first thing you need to do is retain
legal representation from an experienced
criminal defense lawyer who can assess your social media posts, how they may affect your
case, and keep you from posting anything incriminating about yourself.
For more information,
request a free consultation with our Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyers at
Appel & Morse today.