Have you ever met someone, be it a potential new mate, friend, babysitter, or coworker, and to find out more about this new person, you peruse their social media account to get to know more about them? We have all heard about employers who do the same thing to get a feel for the character of potential new employees. Well, law enforcement and lawyers do the same thing when they are building a case against you. Even if your account is set to “private,” anything that is put on the internet becomes public property and is admissible in court. Whether you are arrested for a DUI or you are in heated divorce litigation, even the most innocent-seeming social media posts can negatively impact your case. Here, we will offer some tips to avoid letting social media use to hurt your criminal defense case.
There is no such thing as an anonymous internet user.
There is a serious false sense of security in posting from behind a screen. Whether you are commenting on someone else’s social media from your own, you log in under your pseudonym account, or you conduct a search in an incognito browser window, every move you make on the internet can be discovered and recovered by law enforcement. Your privacy settings mean very little and everything on the world wide web is traceable back to the end user. The best course of action is to just not post or comment on social media if you don’t want it to be broadcast in a courtroom.
Do not air your dirty laundry online.
This is a great tip for life in general. It is easy to take to social media to vent, and with social media at our fingertips, sometimes this occurs in the heat of the moment. However, once it is posted online, even if you delete the post later, it exists on the internet and cannot be deleted from the memory of those who saw it. Posting pictures of your car accident can be used to find evidence that the accident was your fault and a cheeky post made in anger such as “this other driver is going to pay!” can be used as proof that you intended to collect money and may delegitimize injuries or can be twisted to read as vengeful or as if the accident was intentional. Even the most innocent-seeming posts can be used against you, so it is best to refrain from posting.
Photos can be more incriminating than words.
Photos are some of the most incriminating pieces of evidence available on the internet. Even seemingly innocent photos can later be used against you. Whether you post the photo or are tagged in someone else’s photo, pictures can be used to show intent or create a timeline. For instance, if you went out for dinner with your friends and you all posted photos of the event on social media, law enforcement may be able to prove that you were drinking prior to the crime.
Avoid social media altogether during an active case.
If you are involved in an active case, whether as the plaintiff or defendant in family court or facing federal felony charges, it is best to completely take a break from social media for the duration of the case. Posting positive status updates or photos in an attempt to keep a good image to the public could be twisted to show that you are unphased by the charges. Photos of you living life and having fun during a divorce proceeding, while you meant it to “save face,” can be misconstrued as you being able to afford additional alimony or child support.
With all of this information, it may seem like you should not use social media at all, and, while that would be ideal, we know that in this day in age, that is not practical. 79 percent of Americans have some form of social media on their phones and 56 percent of Americans use several forms of social media. If you are one of those Americans, it is important to use social media wisely. Remember these helpful tips:
- Never post anything hateful about or to another person.
- Write every post and post every photo as if it will show up in a courtroom.
- There is no anonymity on the internet and deleting something does not remove all trace.
- Never post anything about an arrest or court case.
- Set privacy settings to protect your account.
- Do not post anything while you are angry or frustrated.
- Remember that not everyone on your friends list is your friend.
If you are facing criminal charges in the Colorado Springs area, contact the law offices of Murphy & Price, LLC immediately. We will start building your case right away and can help minimize the damage social media may pose to your case.