If you have been charged or arrested for a crime, caution is the best course to follow in all areas of your life. What you say leading up to the trial can be used against you in a court of law, and this includes social media posts. Even though it is typically used for recreation and entertainment, social media may give the prosecutor ammunition to convict you of your charges.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize the impact social media has on criminal cases. Today, the criminal justice system uses social media to track criminal behavior and activity. And individuals unintentionally post confessions and document criminal behavior online, which results in guilty convictions.
In this article, we discuss the impact of social media on criminal cases and how a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyer can help protect you from the negative effects it has on your case.
How Social Media Impacts Criminal Cases
Here are some of the impacts of social media on criminal cases:
1. Keeps Communities Informed
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are turning into critical components in investigating crime on all levels. Authorities use these sites to keep communities informed about local crimes. For example, if there is an active shooting in a public park in Fort Lauderdale, law enforcement can update the local community to avoid that area via social media. Since everyone uses social media to connect with friends and communicate, word gets out quickly, keeping everyone informed.
2. Identify Suspects
Authorities often use social media platforms during criminal investigations to identify and apprehend criminals. For example, they can post surveillance footage and crime scene photos to the public to get help with suspect identification. Alternatively, they may ask people to report to law enforcement if they see a wanted criminal, which helps with apprehension.
3. Helps With Investigations
It is common for law enforcement to acquire subpoenas to access private messages to help with investigations. They can use these messages to determine motive or gain correspondence that directly or indirectly links a person to a crime.
4. Track Organized Crime
Criminal justice systems are using social media to track organized crimes and procure tips of criminal activity. In these criminal cases, they do not need any kind of special privileges to obtain private information and messages. They can easily track a user’s social media activity over a certain period and make an arrest once they have built a case.
The Legal Implications of Using Social Media
Any information you share on a public platform is admissible in court. This means it can be presented as evidence during your trial for the jury to consider when deciding your criminal case. Since social media is a free space where everyone can share their thoughts, most people tend to overshare, resulting in incriminating evidence.
Others mistakenly feel protected on specific sites like Snapchat, where messages disappear or in private messages, when this is not the case. Prosecutors can still gain access to your private messages by subpoenaing records from your account or requesting the information directly from the social media website. Even if you delete any social media posts or messages you have sent, law enforcement can recover them, and you can be charged for tampering with evidence.
If you are involved in an ongoing litigation, it’s wise to stay off social media until your case is resolved. Anything you share online, whether via email, in private, or publicly can be used as evidence.
How Prosecutors And Law Enforcement Use Social Media In Criminal Law Trials
Here’s how prosecutors and law enforcement use social media in criminal law trials:
1. Mischaracterize You
Aggressive prosecutors normally use social media to paint an unfavorable portrait or make you seem irresponsible. This mischaracterization often leads the jury to believe you are actually capable of committing the crime you have been charged with. For example, if you make negative comments about the victims of your case, prosecutors can use this to show your lack of empathy.
2. Obtain Information
Prosecutors can use social media to obtain incriminating information about your ongoing case. They can create fake profiles and infiltrate your social circle, then use the information they obtain as evidence in court. This is why criminal lawyers recommend staying offline throughout the course of your case. You never know who is watching, and a simple slip-up can be the difference between your freedom and a guilty conviction.
3. Gather Supporting Evidence
During investigation and discovery, law enforcement and prosecutors use social media to gather supporting evidence. They can use your posts to discount your statements, corroborate a witness, or find evidence of intent to commit a crime, which negatively affects your defense.
Photo metadata and check-ins can also weaken your defense or place you near the scene of a crime. For instance, a Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer may have difficulty fighting a 4.00 a.m. DUI arrest if the prosecutor introduces a photo showing you drinking at 3.00 a.m. in a nearby bar.
How A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you are facing criminal charges, a Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer can help protect you from the legal implications of using social media. They will guide and advise on what you should do during a criminal proceeding, including staying off social media. They will protect your rights and fight for you to ensure the best outcome for your case.
After being arrested or charged with a crime, you may feel the need to talk to someone about it. Instead of posting it on social media, share it with your criminal defense attorney. Due to attorney-client privilege, your lawyer is the only person that is safe to speak with. This means that whatever you say cannot be passed to anyone and be used against you.
While it is the duty of your Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney to defend you in court, you should also play your part by staying off social media. You do not want any posts, texts, or pictures to damage your defense.
Hire the best Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers today for your criminal and DUI case.