Your Public Life
It should come as no surprise that what you post on social media is public. By sharing your personal life with friends and family online, you inadvertently share your life with everyone online, including the California criminal justice system. Thus, if you are facing criminal charges of any type, you should audit your social media accounts ASAP, and here's why.
Public social media accounts are public. Public means anyone can access it, including prosecuting attorneys. There is no hiding that information or preventing the attorney for the state from combing through it to find evidence. Criminal investigators routinely go through social media accounts. You'd be surprised how many people accidentally post information or images that link them directly to their offense.
Don't post anything about your offense or what happened or where you were before you committed it. Don't leave any breadcrumbs. In fact, it's best to stop posting altogether until you speak with a criminal defense attorney.
Providing Insight into Intent
Social media posts can reveal a lot about you. Think you don't have anything on social media that could harm you? Think again. It's difficult to know what a prosecuting attorney will view as incriminating evidence at the time you post it. Prosecuting attorneys sometimes turn to social media to get a feel for the defendant's character, intent, and state of mind. Even if you don't post about your offense or past criminal acts, posts of your everyday life can paint the wrong picture. Think spring break or that weekend in Vegas. Your images, posts, check-ins, shares, and even likes can be held against you. For example, if you post a “check-in” on Facebook when at a bar with friends and later that night are arrested for a DUI, you should be worried. Similarly, if you post about a “wild night” you had and were arrested on that same night, it would be easy to make the connection between your state of mind that night and the offense you committed.
This tip is especially important to keep in mind if your case heads to trial. A jury, most of which probably posts on social media, too, may have an easier time seeing evidence of guilt in your social media posts because we often fall into the trap of taking social media too seriously. In fact, with the recent spate of crimes, such as assaults, committed with the specific intent to share on social media, this particular area of criminal law is more contentious than ever. Do not expect any sympathy or leniency from the court or a jury.
Don't delete social media activity or accounts until you talk to an attorney. Evidence is evidence. And if you delete your social media accounts the day after you get arrested, that could be interpreted as an attempt to destroy evidence. Unfortunately, social media companies cooperate with law enforcement and can reveal privacy protected and even information you delete. A warrant or subpoena can be enough to obtain a complete history of your social media activity. There is no hiding, but you can discuss your options for limiting how information from your social media accounts can be used against you.
Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have transformed the way we live and share our lives. Unfortunately, one of the collateral consequences is our lives are less private than ever. And when it comes to criminal charges, the more privacy, the better. Social media activity is increasingly used as evidence in court cases, both criminal and civil. Police and prosecutors see social media as “easy evidence.” A warrant or subpoena for evidence is quick to obtain.
In reality, there is little you can do with regards to your social media accounts when facing criminal charges. Perhaps the only thing you should do is stop posting and call an attorney. You'll want to find a California criminal defense attorney with trial experience. If there is any information on your social media accounts that could potentially be incriminating, you might want to consider a trial. Setting your case for trial will give you and your attorney the opportunity to examine the evidence the prosecuting attorney has. From there your attorney can advise you on what you can challenge and potentially suppress in your case.
Facing criminal charges can be overwhelming, but experienced Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you navigate the process of defending your rights and clearing your name. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you build a strategic defense to fight your charges. Attorney Martens has practiced criminal defense for over ten years and knows how to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.