Criminal Defense And Social Media
The rules of evidence allow the court and jury to take into account relevant statements made by you in your criminal case. Relevant statements not only include admissions of guilt, but also any inconsistencies with prior statements or with the evidence. Statements can include those made in writing by text or on social media.
“But my account is set to ‘private’” you may think. That doesn’t matter. This is why every criminal defense attorney in California will tell you to never say anything about your case in person, online, or anywhere else. Ever.
How Social Media Can Hurt Your Defense
A few years ago I represented a client accused of stabbing his girlfriend. Without my knowledge, the client engaged in a text conversation with his girlfriend’s sister. While he didn’t outright admit that he stabbed his girlfriend in the text messages, he did provide substantial evidence of motive, which turned out to be that his girlfriend had cheated on him.
What happened next? His girlfriend’s sister immediately turned those text messages over to the police. Because of those text messages, my client was nearly convicted.
In another case, a client of mine had made explicit statements in an online sex forum and also in text messages. The statements were bad enough, but they also included pictures. Evidence like this makes it almost impossible to bargain with the prosecution because it provides such strong evidence of guilt.
Seriously, Don’t Talk About Your Crimes On Twitter
In case it’s not overwhelmingly obvious already, do not talk about criminal activity on social media. Yes, the police can’t search your mobile phone without a warrant. But guess what? The police don’t need a warrant to log onto Instagram and look at the pictures you posted of yourself doing drugs, holding weapons, or whatever else you may be accused of doing.
If you are charged with a crime, call an attorney immediately. When your attorney tells you not to speak about your case with anyone, this means on social media as well. Do yourself a favor and heed that advice at all times.
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