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Social media is no friend to criminal defendants 

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, X and Snapchat allow Americans to stay connected, share experiences and express their thoughts and opinions on everything from politics to poodles. However, for individuals who are facing criminal investigations or criminal charges, the very act of logging onto social media platforms can be like trying to navigate a minefield.

If you are being investigated or prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing, it’s important to keep in mind that anything you respond to, post or respond to on social media can potentially be used as evidence against you in court. It is now common for prosecutors to scour social media profiles for incriminating evidence. And when they do, even a seemingly innocent post or photo can be misinterpreted or taken out of context to suggest guilt, questionable character or motive. 

What if you’re careful?

Logging off of social media is undeniably difficult for most people. Yet, it is not generally enough to simply “be careful” with one’s privacy settings maximized. Most prosecutors know how to get around such safeguards and can use even the most seemingly innocuous information – like when you’ve logged on – to mitigate the strength of a criminal defense strategy. 

For example, if you claim to have been somewhere specific at the time of an alleged crime, but your social media activity suggests otherwise, it can weaken your case. Additionally, communicating about your case on social media can inadvertently waive attorney-client privilege. Discussing case details, sharing legal strategies or venting frustrations online can be accessed by prosecutors and used against you. 

And it is not just prosecutors who may use your social media against you, judges may view your social media activity when considering bail or sentencing. Posts that portray reckless behavior, substance abuse or disregard for the law can negatively influence these decisions. Maintaining a responsible and low-profile online presence is often one of the best ways to help yourself avoid additional scrutiny and potential penalties.

While social media offers numerous benefits related to personal expression and connection, it poses significant risks for criminal defendants. As such, by logging off, you can better protect yourself from the pitfalls now commonly associated with social media as your criminal case evolves. 

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