Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram now play a big role in our lives. From posting photos and videos of a recent trip to keeping up with friends and family, there is a large amount of personal information voluntarily shared online.
But if you are arrested for a criminal offense, your social media activity can be used as evidence against you at trial. According to a 2016 survey by the International Association of Police and the Urban Institute, 59 percent of law enforcement agencies use social media in their investigations.
The following are several ways social media can affect your criminal case:
- Posts – Many people post on social media with reckless abandon, sometimes sharing their inner thoughts and opinions through status updates and tweets. As we mentioned before, what you say on social media can be used against you in court. For instance, if you tweet that you are heavily intoxicated shortly before being arrested for drunk driving, the police can use the tweet as evidence.
- Photos – Since cameras are standard issue on all cell phones, most people take advantage of the feature by capturing as many pictures and videos as possible. Unfortunately, people even record illegal activity. For example, you are arrested for drug possession and police find photos or videos of you using the drugs before the arrest.
- Check-ins – To let everyone on social media know their whereabouts, many people check themselves into the specific locations. At some establishments, a check-in can result in free items or discounts to encourage publicity online. However, investigators can use check-ins to determine if you were at or near the scene of the crime to strengthen the prosecution’s case.
Social media enables prosecutors to understand who you are and learn about your personal history before you ever step foot inside a courtroom. Even if your accounts have strict and customized privacy settings, social media companies often cooperate with police investigations, giving them access to private accounts.
If you are considering deleting all your social media accounts, that would be a huge mistake. Not only does it make you appear more guilty in the eyes of the judge and jury but deleting your social media can be seen as an attempt to destroy evidence, resulting in further legal trouble.
The best thing to do is avoid social media entirely until the conclusion of your case. Ask your friends to stop tagging you in photos, videos, and check-ins to avoid letting authorities constantly know about your location. If you have the urge to discuss your case with loved ones through direct messages (DMs) or vent your frustrations about the criminal investigation for the world to see—please don’t. Only discuss the details of your case with your attorney.
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Connecticut, contact The Sills Law Firm today at (860) 524-8118 and schedule a free consultation today.