How Your Social Media May Help the Case against You
At this point, most of us are on social media; a lot. Whether you use older platforms like Facebook or Twitter or are embracing the latest trends in the form of TikTok, we are so accustomed to creating and consuming social media content, that we are not aware of the danger it can pose to us.
No, I am not talking about targeted advertising (although it can be quite invasive). I am talking about your social media being used by the police to tie you to a criminal case. We reached out to a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego to give us insight on how the police does this and what to pay attention to.
Pictures, Video, and Text
Social media can be a great way to chronicle your life for your personal use, but it can be a double-edged sword – it can be used against you by the police. Even if you set your accounts to private, there is a chance that the police will be granted a warrant and access to your social media.
If your social media posts, including photos, videos, or even text point to any kind of wrongdoing on your part, it can be accepted by the court as evidence against you.
Putting You in Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
One of the most common ways your social media can cause trouble to you is by showing where you were at a certain time. If you told the police a different story, this evidence will be detrimental to your case.
Although not an outright evidence that you did anything wrong, the proof that you lied to the police is sometimes enough to sway the judge or the jury that you are untrustworthy, further damaging your case.
Displaying Something Illegal
The other, arguably more damning way your social media can lead to legal problems is if something illegal is caught in them. For instance, taking a photo with a gun for which you don’t have a license will not reflect well on you if you are later arrested and accused of a gun crime.
Having photos or videos of illicit drugs is also likely to put you on a watch list by the police, resulting in a higher chance of you being caught if you get involved with buying or selling drugs.
Is It Legal and Constitutional?
Some people might argue that your privacy is violated by the police if they check your social media. However, as legal practice shows, this argumentation doesn’t really work in court. Seeing how the social media are largely a public forum, what you post there is open to public use, including by the police.
When it comes to more private posts on social media, there is a common argument that the police is violating the Fourth Amendment, because it is an unreasonable search. However, with a warrant, the police can compel the social media company to divulge even your private messages, as well as the deleted data, like tweets and Facebook posts.
Basically, hubris is bad for you. Be mindful of what you post and what you say on the public forums like social media, even if you are not doing something illegal. It will make your life a lot easier if you do find yourself fighting off criminal charges. Your criminal defense attorney will thank you, too.