Don’t Talk About Your Case on Social Media
If you are facing charges in a criminal case, you may feel inclined to post your thoughts online or have conversations with your friends or make comments about it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or other social media platforms. Law enforcement and investigators use information gathered from social media to help build the case against you. A “joke” you post to amuse your friends could have a significant impact on your case. The rule is: Never speak about your case on social media – ever.
Police investigators will look over and extract the information you have posted on social media as part of the investigation to support a case against you. Law enforcement has found social media to be one of the most productive sources of information in criminal cases. All of your comments, images, and conversations with others could become an essential part of the prosecution’s case against you. Law enforcement consistently harvests data from social media to gather intelligence about you and your friends, and to establish the likelihood of your guilt.
How To Protect Yourself
You have the right to remain silent when questioned by police – and should never agree to an interview without a lawyer present. You may be unaware that you are the target of an investigation, and your impulse to help can turn into a nightmare. Wait for your defense attorney to arrive before engaging in discussions with police investigators – and never post any thought, idea, photo, complaint, or private conversation about a crime on any social media site. It extends further: Do not discuss your case or the crime in text messages, email, phone, or by any other method. Speak only to your lawyer, as these discussions are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Your Friends Want to Know: What Should You Do?
Your friends care about you and will want to hear about the progress of your case, or discuss a crime involving a friend or family member. It can be difficult, but the smart approach is to say nothing. Don’t respond to questions, mention the facts, state your ideas about it, or complain. When it comes to social media, here are the rules:
- Do not mention anything about your case on any social media site.
- Do not respond to any questions about your case.
- Do not have any private discussions with friends or family members through social media accounts, private or not.
There are no private accounts, private messages, or secret social media accounts that cannot be discovered, the data extracted and then used against you by the prosecutor.
Your Defense Case Can Be Damaged by Your Social Media Accounts
You may believe that deleting your accounts will help, but unfortunately, this is not the case. Deleted account information is often accessible, as it was shared with friends. When you signed up for the service, you probably didn’t read the fine print, but you are the one who is liable for the consequences of your online actions. Prosecutors may even present the deletion as a sign of guilt.
Photos on Social Media and Your Case
Criminal cases may use photos posted on social media to establish a type of behavior, such as drug or alcohol use. A simple example would be posting a picture of a night out with friends at a bar, and later being arrested and charged with DUI. The posted image supports the case against you – you were out and you were drinking. Party photos that reveal a bong or other drug paraphernalia could cause you big problems if you are charged with a drug crime.
Also, comments about others that give the impression that you wished them harm can be used against you in court. Your post may not have been meant literally, but if the person named is later harmed, you could be a suspect in the crime.
If you are facing criminal charges, call Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 for assistance.