Reducing Stress.
Protecting Rights. Getting Results.

Is Your Social Media Activity Hurting Your Criminal Defense Case? Insights from an Alabama Lawyer

Latest Articles

Can the Police or Court Use My Social Media Against Me in a Criminal Case?

Every year, social media has more and more impact on our lives and the lives of our families. We are also learning that anything we post on social media is “fair game” to both help us and have a significant adverse effect on our lives.

This is especially true if you are involved in any legal challenge and, more importantly, a criminal case against you.

These posts often seem innocuous, and you may be venting about a singular matter. However, even seemingly off-the-cuff statements about your case can and will usually be used against you if you’ve been criminally charged.

We all are beginning to see that when you post on social media, there are very few controls on how that information can be used; this is true even if the information posted is utterly false. Although certain states are trying to fight social media’s ethical and legal impacts, there is a long way to go.

The prosecution can sift through all your social media posts, even take things “out of context,” and use this information to help convict you. So, suppose you post anything on social media that pertains to your criminal charge. In that case, you probably have unknowingly added it to the case against you or even incriminated yourself.

For example, let’s say you’re
charged with a severe weapons offense and post pictures or videos of you using
the weapon, etc. The prosecution could use this documented information to add
to your case and help them convict you.

State prosecutors also look
for social media-related crimes, which may involve you posting something on

your computer that results in your arrest and criminal charges.

Social media is a platform that is an “open door” to your life and has few controls imposed on its use. Therefore, law enforcement, district attorneys, etc., can use it for almost anything they feel will produce a criminal charge or prosecute one, and it rarely works on your behalf.

All skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyers will tell you that if you’ve been charged with a crime, never use social media to attempt to speak about the issue in any manner, even if you feel it may vindicate you.

Also, always be aware that no matter how severe or harmful the charge may be, consulting with an experienced, aggressive St. Clair County criminal defense lawyer is always your best defense. In the worst-case scenarios, you have rights, and your professional, aggressive criminal defense lawyer will aggressively fight for them.

What Are Some Ways the Authorities Can Use My Social Media Against Me?

Let’s say you’ve been charged with a criminal violation; the arresting officers will always warn you that anything you say can and will be used against you. This “Miranda warning” pertains to anything you say, do, or post on social media, etc., from that moment on.

Usually, the authorities will investigate your case, speak to witnesses, search your home or business, and, in today’s technically oriented environment, look at everything you post on social media, past or present. Everything you have posted may be used as evidence to prove the state’s case; you may have thought this information was private, but that is very far from the truth.

Therefore, if the information is related to your criminal charge, no matter what platform you use, either Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or more, it can (and usually will) be used to prove the prosecutor’s case and provide evidence against you, which may be significantly difficult for your lawyer to rebuke.

In almost all criminal cases today, your social media posts are used to find evidence against you, confirm or discredit any possible alibi you may have, develop illegal connections to incriminate you, find suspects, discover incriminatory or inflammatory statements, and much more.

If social media uncovers incriminating evidence, the best thing to do is consult with a qualified, experienced, and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Some of this evidence may be able to be disallowed, but the sooner your lawyer is aware of it, the better.

Is There an Established Legal Process for Using Social Media Against Me?

Law enforcement and prosecution can include your social media, such as public posts, photos, videos, and even private messages. However, to legally access this information, various legal processes are used: search warrants, subpoenas, court orders, and more.

Some of these legal processes are;

  • Search Warrants Search warrants are legal documents issued by a judge that authorizes the police to search particular locations for evidence related to your crime. To obtain a search warrant, law enforcement must establish probable cause.
  • Subpoenas – Subpoenas are legal documents that require you to provide documents, information, or testimony that directly pertain to your case. Prosecutors can use subpoenas on social media platforms to obtain information, such as IP addresses, login details, and even private messages.
  • Court Orders – Court orders are also mandated by a judge and require you to take specific actions. These orders can compel you or social media platforms to disclose user information or content, such as deleted posts or private messages.

If your lawyer sees that any of these court processes are attempting to use your social media against you, they have remedies, such as a “motion to Quash.” So, your skilled criminal defense lawyer does have ways to attempt to protect you from the negative aspects of social media. However, this needs to be done quickly, so your lawyer must be made aware of any possible posts the prosecution may use as soon as possible.

Can Social Media Platforms Willingly Give My Information To the Courts?

Yes, most social media platforms have strict policies to handle police and the court’s requests for your information. Usually, these policies require legal documentation from the appropriate legal sources, such as judges.

Social media platforms may notify you of the request or be legally prohibited, usually if informing you hurts the prosecution’s investigation.

So, it’s vital to note that most social media platforms are not obligated to comply with every request automatically. They may sometimes challenge the request themselves if they believe it is overly broad, lacks legal basis, or violates your civil rights. However, your detail-oriented and aggressive criminal defense lawyer will always be working on your behalf and is still your best defense against the damaging effects of social media on your case.

The Authorities Are Attempting to Use Social Media In My Criminal Case; What Should I Do?

The first vital thing to remember is that you consult with your St. Clair County criminal defense lawyer immediately. The sooner your lawyer knows the facts, the better your chances of obtaining a positive outcome on your case.

Even if you’re just “under investigation” or have been legally charged. Either way, the sooner your lawyer knows all the facts (especially social media information), the sooner they can begin to “get ahead” of the prosecution’s case.

Any criminal conviction can change you, your family, your business, and your future. Jim Golden Law is an experienced, aggressive, and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer with a winning history of building clients’ robust legal defenses, including cases relying on social media allegations.

Call Jim Golden Law today for a free in-depth consultation on your case. Don’t hesitate, as your future may be on the line, so don’t leave anything to chance!

Related Articles