You may be a master as setting your accounts to private and only sharing select things with certain friendship groups. However, that doesn’t mean that the information and content on your social media can be used as evidence in a criminal investigation.
In fact, even totally innocent behavior such as checking in at a particular location can be used in court. Often to establish your whereabouts and what you were doing before an automobile accident or something similar.
With that in mind, it is essential to be aware of how social media can be used by prosecutors and what action to take about this. A topic that we will go into more depth in the article below.
No special permissions needed
One thing that you may not realize about your social media accounts is that no special permissions are required. That means the prosecutor can use them freely when building a case against you.
In fact, because of The Stored Communications Act (SCA), the prosecution will rarely, if ever, need a subpoena even for posts and content that is set to private or protected. The reason being that the SCA allows social media providers to cooperate with law enforcement and other third parties in criminal cases.
Of course, what that means is anything you have posted on social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter can be discovered and used as evidence if you are involved in a criminal case.
How the evidence can be used
Now, you are aware that information on your social media accounts can be used against you in court, it’s time to explain how this occurs.
Of course, the job of the prosecution is to demonstrate they have enough evidence to bring a case to trial. Therefore they will use all and every avenue to find such evidence that they can, including your social media.
In fact, social media is often used for a range of purposes in court, such as to identify criminal activity or connections with others that are breaking the law. Although in the interest of balance, it is pertinent to mention here, a good Criminal Attorney can use evidence from social media to help your case too. By locating witnesses or other suspects, and even confirming your alibis.
Additionally, lawyers on both sides are likely to use social media evidence to establish a timeline of events before a crime is committed. Oh, and don’t forget about the direct messenger apps that many social media platforms have. These being something that can also be a rich source of evidence. Either the hands of your Criminal Attorney or the lawyer bringing the prosecution against you.
The real kicker when it comes to social media evidence is that it can be used to the prosecution gain permission to search your IRL property. Such as your home or car. In fact, all they need is to find something that suggests you are involved in criminal activity, and they can build a case for a warrant on that!
Types of evidence
In particular, three types of evidence can be collected from social media and use against you in court. The first is check-ins because they can help to establish that you were in a particular area at the time of a crime being committed. Additionally, they can show that you were likely to be engaged in a specific activity such as drinking alcohol before a crime. Something that can then be used to prove things like DUI or present a motive for loss of control in cases that accuse the plaintiff of violence.
The next type of evidence that can be used from social media is photos and videos. Which, if demonstrating illegal activity, can be a very convenient source of the incident for the prosecution indeed.
Finally, even posts can be gathered to be used as evidence in court, especially if they contain emotional statements or reactions or even threats to another safety.
What action to take
With this in mind, you may think that the best thing you can do is to delete any social media accounts if you are facing a criminal case. However, doing so can actually make things a lot worse, because it can be seen as an attempt to destroy evidence. To that end, it is much better to stop using such accounts, but leave them active at the same time.
Additionally, it’s worth knowing that there is a chance that a good Criminal Attorney can have this type of evidence struck from the record. Although, prevention is undoubtedly better than curse here. Therefore using social media cautiously is the best advice whether you are involved in a criminal case or not.