Now more than ever, people have easy and instant access to the internet. However, since many people use the internet to share their thoughts and feelings without a filter, it can often come with significant legal risks. Social media and criminal cases do not play well together, and posting frequently online and oversharing private information and personal thoughts can come back to haunt you if you’re ever investigated for a crime.
So, don’t allow your words to be taken out of context or provide incriminating details. Learn how social media can be leveraged in a court of law and the steps you can take to safeguard your future.
When is digital content admissible in court?
Unfortunately, any posts on any publicly viewable site are fully admissible in court. This means that when you post something online, it can be taken as your word.
This issue only compounds itself if you have multiple social media platforms. Many people share content on over six different platforms regularly, resulting in a complex web of information that’s difficult for the average user to maintain. After all, it’s one thing to defend yourself when you’ve made a single post on a single platform — it’s another thing entirely to defend yourself against a list of posts that prosecutors use to build a profile and weaken your case.
Protecting Your Online Activity as a Defendant
With so much at risk, you should take every precaution and maintain a safe digital footprint that cannot be used to incriminate you. With that in mind, here are some tips to consider when you’re using the internet and sharing your content:
- Limit your visibility and exposure online if you are under an active investigation
- If you wouldn’t say it in front of a judge, never post it online — even in a private message
- Talk with your attorney before deleting any posts — it may raise suspicion or be viewed as tampering
Remember, it’s always vital that you protect yourself online and maintain a clean digital footprint, but even more so when you are under investigation. After all, the last thing you should do is provide unnecessary information that can be held against you. And when many people open books and share everything about their lives on social media, it can quickly become a serious liability.
However, it’s not all bad for social media and criminal case defense. In some cases, criminal defense attorneys can often use social media content like photos and videos to form the basis of an alibi that can bolster your case or a psychological profile that sways a jury. But remember that law enforcement uses everything at their disposal to build their own case, including digital forensics.
Digital Forensics in Modern Law Enforcement
Unprotected social media profiles are easy sources of information. And as privacy legislation grows weaker every day, it’s unwise to share anything on social media that can harm your reputation, even if it’s in a private message.
Police officers and prosecutors have access to sophisticated digital forensic technology, and they can obtain warrants that allow them to get more data from your social media platform than you might think. This means they can obtain information such as geolocation data, facial recognition, and sentiment analysis profiles.
As a result of digital forensics and the power of the legal system, online information can be used as:
- Circumstantial evidence
- Direct and indirect evidence
- Corroborating evidence
- Identifying evidence
- Incriminating evidence or a confession
If you think it’s too late, there’s still hope. You can mitigate your risk with a criminal defense lawyer, who can help to even the playing field.
Do you need a criminal defense attorney?
Legal representation is necessary if you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, especially when it comes to your digital footprint. Social media and criminal cases don’t mix, but a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will help you consider all of the potential loopholes and pitfalls to avoid while in litigation. The Law Office of Mo Abusaft is here to inform and represent defendants in Spartanburg and throughout Greenville County.