From keeping up with the news to connecting with loved ones, family and friends and conducting business, millions of people in the US use social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter every day. It’s such an ingrained part of daily life today that many people aren’t sure what to do when they can’t access their social media accounts.
Unfortunately, if you are arrested for a criminal offense and you can’t stay off of social media, law enforcement agencies can use your own social media activity against you in court. When it comes to a criminal charge, investigators, police officers, and prosecutors will look for any criminal evidence they can find to use against you in your court case. If, for example, you have been accused of a crime related to sex, investigators may scour your social media to try to find heavily sexualized content. A person accused of a violent crime, such as assault, will have their social media searched for potential threats made against the victim on there, which can be used as evidence to back up a claim of instigation.
On top of this, videos, photos and even location tags that could place you near a crime scene during the time the offense you are accused of could work as evidence against you and/or prove your involvement. If you’re accused of something involving drugs or alcohol, videos or photos of drug or alcohol use on your social media accounts can be used against you.
Keep in mind that even if you have customized privacy settings, law enforcement officials may still be able to get to your content. In some cases, social media platforms have cooperated with criminal investigators and can give out information without your knowledge or consent. The police can also search through the social media accounts of people in your social circle who may have more lax privacy settings than you do. Last but certainly not least, investigators have been known to create fake accounts in order to trick people charged with a crime into giving them access to their accounts.
Be Social Media Safe
If you have been charged with or are being investigated for a crime, it’s imperative you speak to a criminal lawyer in Denver, CO as soon as you can. They will advise you on what not to do, including when it comes to your social media. It’s generally best to not be active on your accounts until your case is resolved, but if you can’t resist, there are some things you can do to help protect your case:
- Don’t talk about your case through any online messaging services, including those offered by social media platforms
- Don’t delete your accounts as this can be viewed as an attempt to “destroy evidence”
- Tell all your social media contacts to stop tagging you or posting things with you in them
A criminal conviction will impact your life now and potentially for years in the future. Speak to a lawyer for help if you have been or will be charged with a crime.
Thanks to Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and social media.