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How Social Media Can Be Used in Criminal Cases


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 set all of your accounts to private, your social media activity can still be exposed through other routes.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 police cannot get a search warrant, they might still be able to gain access to some of your social media activity. For example, information can be found through mutual friends who have their profile set to public.

Prosecutors can use social media as evidence in a criminal case.

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 is finished.
  • 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 criminal consultation with our Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyers at Appel & Morse today.

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