If you have a criminal case pending, it is a good idea to restrict or suspend your use of social media until your case is resolved. Investigators and prosecutors use evidence gleaned from social media all the time to charge, prosecute, locate, and convict people. And evidence they find on social media can hurt your criminal case.
They can use any incriminating direct messages, posts, comments, photos, videos, tweets, or snaps that they get ahold of as evidence against you in court.
In fact, according to a LexisNexis research study, 81 percent of law enforcement professionals admit to using social media in investigations. At Goldman Wetzel, we recommend that our clients avoid social media to avoid any unnecessary problems that could cost them their case. If you have case-specific questions, call us directly at 727-828-3900.
How can social media hurt my criminal case?
Law enforcement is coming up with increasingly unique and effective ways to use social media in their investigations. They can get a search warrant for all of your social media accounts.
And it is not just what you post that could hurt you, but what others post about you. Investigators can use social media to piece together crimes and to contact friends of suspects to interview them and collect evidence.
“Police look at what information is public and sometimes create fake online identities to befriend suspects and view their private information. Authorities also can request private data directly from social networks with subpoenas or warrants, or make an emergency request for user information if they think there’s an imminent threat of danger,” CNN reports.
Real Examples of Criminal Cases Involving Social Media
Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are the most common social media channels officers use, but Instagram and Snapchat are becoming popular, as well. Here are some real-life examples of how law enforcement has used social media in criminal cases:
- Officers found Facebook photos showed six suspects inside a home, committing a hate crime burglary. They arrested all for felonies.
- In one case, an officer used a Facebook photo of a man with a unique three-fingered ring that was used in assault. The victim identified the ring and it matched the markings on the victim.
- Officers were able to locate and arrest a man on drug charges after seeing a photo of him on another drug dealer’s page showing off his bike with the license plate showing.
- A Florida man made headlines when he was charged with 142 felonies after police found selfies of him with wads of cash and guns on his Instagram account during their investigation for a string of robberies.
Speak to a lawyer about how to protect yourself.
Talk to your lawyer about your social media accounts and be upfront with any activity so she is not blindsided by something the prosecutor may bring up.
If you are facing criminal charges in Florida and have yet to hire a lawyer, consider Goldman Wetzel as your choice firm. We have handled all types of state and federal criminal cases from misdemeanors to felony offenses. Contact our office today at 727-828-3900 to talk about your case.