If you've been charged with a crime, you probably know that you must be careful about who you interact with and how you behave leading up to your trial. Still, many people overlook social media's potential dangers while awaiting trial.
While you may want to scroll through social media to pass the time as you wait for your criminal trial, your social media activity could hurt your case. Read more about how social media can harm your Florida criminal defense case. Then contact us today to schedule a meeting with criminal defense lawyer Ronald Chapman.
Social Media Posts are Admissible Evidence
Some people may wrongfully believe that social media posts are private and that the court cannot use them as evidence against a defendant. However, content from any kind of social media account is admissible in a trial. This includes your:
- Friends list
- Instant messages
- Followers/following list
- Tagged posts
Outside of social media, the court can also obtain phone records, text messages, and smartphone activity to use against you in your criminal trial.
The Prosecutor Can Use Your Social Media Posts as Evidence Against You
Social media posts can act as evidence of your character. If you post anything potentially incriminating on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, the prosecutor could collect these posts to use against you during the trial.
Here are a few examples of social media posts that could be incriminating of criminal charges:
- Photos depicting you acting illegally
- Threats over direct messages or through social media posts
- Negative posts about another person involved in the case
- Angry posts that could indicate a violent nature
If you have already been charged with a crime, the court will look for any small piece of evidence to convict you. Even one wrong social media post could provide a world of evidence to hurt your case.
The Court Can Obtain Even Private Social Media Posts
Many people falsely believe that what they post on private social media accounts is private. They think that if no one from the court is friends with them on Facebook, the court won't be able to see or gain access to their posts.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true. The court can and will obtain electronic data to use as evidence against you. This includes text messages, emails, and social media posts on private accounts.
As a result, you should never post anything on social media that could be used against you, even if you believe it is private.
Your Friends' Social Media Posts Can Also Hurt Your Case
Even if your social media profiles are clean, if your friends have tagged you in potentially incriminating posts, the court may obtain these posts as evidence against you.
On Facebook and Instagram, users can tag you in their posts and photos, and the court can easily retrieve all of the posts in which other people have tagged you. Meanwhile, on Twitter, the court can access a list of your correspondences, including people who have tagged your Twitter account in their tweets.
While most text posts aren't necessarily incriminating, they can contribute to other evidence to paint a negative image of your character. Meanwhile, photos of you acting unlawfully could provide direct evidence of your behavior.
Even Deleted Posts Are Still Accessible
When you receive a criminal charge, you may consider deleting your social media accounts or removing specific posts that could be incriminating. Unfortunately, even posts that you have deleted are still accessible.
The court can contact the social media company to provide a copy of your social media history, including deleted posts. Deleting posts may hurt your case more than leaving them on your profile, as the court may see your activity as proof that you have something to hide. The court may also view your activity as an attempt to destroy evidence, which is a crime in itself.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Ronald S. Chapman Provides Trustworthy, Honest Representation
People working for the court may try to reach out to you or interview you while collecting evidence about your case. They may ask about your social media activity or request login information to access your accounts.
However, your criminal defense lawyer is the only person you can reliably trust leading up to your case. You and your criminal lawyer will have attorney-client privilege, ensuring protection for your conversations. You should be honest with your criminal attorney and come clean about any potentially incriminating social media activity as soon as possible.
Experienced criminal lawyer Ronald S. Chapman can help you understand what behaviors to avoid while awaiting your Florida criminal trial. Contact our team today at 561-832-4348, or fill out our online form to schedule a meeting.
Copyright © 2022. Ronald S. Chapman, P.A. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Ronald S. Chapman, P.A.
400 Clematis St. Suite 206
West Palm Beach, FL 33401