Your Social Media Use Might Hurt Your Criminal Defense
Increasingly, many people are documenting their lives online using popular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Unfortunately, what you post online might come back to haunt you. As prosecutors investigate your possible participation in a crime, they will immediately scour social media for any clues of your guilt. And if they find something, you can be sure they will try to introduce it into court to use against you.
How Social Media Can Hurt Your Case
Although the prosecutor can’t force you to testify at trial, they can use anything you have said outside of court against you. This includes social media content the state thinks links you to a crime. For example, the state might introduce:
- Posts in which you admit to participating in a crime.
- Content that shows you at the scene of a crime on the date in question.
- Pictures that show you with illegal contraband, such as drugs or alcohol if you are underage.
- Offensive comments that show you aren’t sorry for the crime. This information can be introduced during sentencing if you are convicted.
These are only some of the ways your social media use might come back to harm you. Rest assured, a skilled prosecutor can take many pieces of information and blow them out of proportion, claiming they link you to a crime.
Take Protective Action
You can’t un-ring a bell. Fortunately, you can make your social media profiles harder for people to find. For example, you should immediately:
- Set your accounts to private. This will prevent unauthorized people from seeing your posts and other content.
- Stop posting. Once you have been accused of a crime, the less you say the better.
- Block friends. The police might try to gain access to a private account through your friends. On many social media accounts, you can block all followers.
- Speak to your lawyer before hitting “delete.” Deleting incriminating evidence might carry harsh consequences of its own, so you should consult with a criminal defense attorney before deleting content.
Investigators can be dogged when trying to uncover information, so don’t be surprised if incriminating social media posts come to light. Nevertheless, a seasoned criminal defense attorney can try to keep the evidence out, but it is difficult.
For example, out-of-court statements usually can’t be admitted into court to prove a fact. This is called “hearsay.” Nevertheless, there is a big exception to the hearsay rule that lets in anything a party says as a party admission. If you admitted to a crime in a blog post, then you can expect that statement to be admitted against you.
Alternately, you might claim that some evidence is unduly prejudicial “character evidence.” For example, you might have been picked up for a DUI in January. The prosecutor wants to introduce Facebook pictures of you being passed out drunk from a Christmas party two years ago. Typically, your lawyer can request that the judge exclude this evidence because it shows you have a habit of getting drunk.
Contact a Columbia, South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney
Social media use creates unique problems for a criminal defendant. William A. Hodge, Attorney at Law, has ample experience helping defendants put incriminating statements in context or excluding them altogether. Call today for a free consultation, 803-457-2216, or send an email using this online contact form.