Understanding how social media activity can impact the outcome of a criminal defense case is important if you are under investigation or you have recently been accused of criminal wrongdoing.
Ultimately, what may seem like harmless online sharing can have significant consequences for your criminal defense case. This is why, even if you avoid speaking about your circumstances directly, it’s best to simply remain disconnected from social media until your criminal case has fully resolved.
Everything you do on social media can be used against you
One of the most direct ways social media can impact a criminal case is through the use of posts, photos, videos and messages as evidence. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are increasingly scrutinizing social media activity to gather evidence. A seemingly innocent post can unintentionally provide information about your whereabouts, actions and intentions.
Additionally, what you most can be misinterpreted and potentially used against you, even if your original intentions were harmless. Understanding this reality can inspire you to stay off of social media. It can also help you to strategize on how to manage your digital footprint more generally, as your search history, emails and other online activity could potentially be used as evidence under certain circumstances.
Perception can be everything
Prosecutors may use social media to paint a negative picture of your character. Posts that suggest irresponsible behavior, illegal activities or even certain associations and relationships can be taken out of context to challenge your character in court.
Your social media activity can even influence sentencing and plea bargain negotiations. Prosecutors might use social media evidence to argue for harsher penalties. While, conversely, your defense team might use past activity to show you in a more favorable light, that is a strategic decision that you shouldn’t take into your own hands by posting “positive” content at this point.
Staying off social media can be difficult. But, given what is at stake in your case, it is far better to be safe than sorry.