Examining Social Media’s Impact on Your Case
A good rule of thumb is to assume that nothing on the internet is private. No matter what privacy settings you enable on your social media apps, do not make the mistake of believing that no one else can see your online activity.
The government can access just about anything you share and consume online, which can ultimately impact your case. Whether you’re dealing with family legal issues or criminal charges, the bottom line is that you must be careful about what you post online. You may make your situation worse than it already is.
With this in mind, our Irving attorney encourages you to learn the following 4 ways in which your social media posts can hurt your case.
Many social media platforms allow users to share their location in posts. Many Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat users take advantage of this feature. However, even if you don’t voluntarily include your location in a post, some social media platforms can track your location anyway. Law enforcement can obtain this data and use it against you as a result.
For example, a person facing weapon possession charges may derail their case if the prosecution finds evidence that they attended a gun shop while out on bail. This may prompt officials to investigate whether or not the person purchased any weapons, ammunition, or accessories. If there is any indication that they did, their case will suffer. In the event that the person did not purchase anything from the gun shop, simply going there could be a red flag to prosecutors.
It’s in your best interests to avoid posting on social media during your case altogether, but especially when you’re in emotional distress. Your words can easily be used against you in court. You have probably seen your friends and family post online that they’re feeling stressed, sad, or infuriated about something, but if you’re facing criminal charges, you cannot do the same. This is because your online posts can be taken out of context and misconstrued in court, even if you never intended to come across that way.
Let’s say you’re facing assault and battery charges. During your case, you post a status saying something like, “A person cut me in line at the supermarket. They have no idea who they’re messing with!” A prosecutor may use this evidence to support the notion that you are an irritable, hot-headed person who may resort to violence as a result. Even though you have every right to be annoyed that someone cut you in line, you must avoid sharing your feeling on social media, or else you may hurt the outcome of your case.
Most social media apps allow users to send private messages to one another. However, those messages are almost always accessible to the government and may serve as evidence to help convict a defendant of a crime or award one party certain legal rights instead of the other.
Hostile online conversations between two parties can get brought up in court and stir up additional problems. Let’s say a husband and wife are getting a divorce and fighting over who gets physical custody of their children. The husband seems to have a higher chance of getting awarded full physical custody, which angers the wife. As a result, the wife messages the husband on Facebook and threatens to expose his secret addiction to drugs and pornography to ruin his chances of getting custody. Frantically, the husband replies, “No please don’t. That is personal and I’m trying to get better.”
The wife can print screenshots of this online exchange and present them to the judge, which may prompt the judge to grant her not only physical but legal custody as well.
Once you post something on social media, you must assume that it’s there forever. Even if you delete something right away, your information can be copied by just about anyone, including social media companies. People may take screenshots of your post and circulate it with their peers without your knowledge, too.
If you got arrested for DUI manslaughter, prosecutors may scour the web to compile evidence against you. In doing so, they may find that your friends tagged you in photos that depict you as drunk and irresponsible. Maybe you were holding stolen street signs while intoxicated, doing a keg stand on truck beds, or “shotgunning” beers in front of your children. These are examples of how the permanency of your online photos can hurt your case, even if they were taken decades ago.
Social media is a double-edged sword, having both favorable and unfavorable outcomes. With this in mind, we encourage you to be extremely careful about your social media posts in general, particularly during your legal case. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at (972) 330-4050!