Facebook and other social media apps are still the most popular ways to communicate in today’s world. Although it began with teens, these apps have become the way we regularly chat, post photos and update our friends and family. Facebook, Instagram and others are used for person and business. Think about the ways we use Facebook, Instagram or TikTok today. We use it to stay informed about our friends and acquaintances, to meet new people, to learn about events, listen to music, to shop, promote political or other views, share stories and photos and vent about our lives. While these apps have become so utterly entrenched in our lives (imagine a day without it), and it can be a valuable tool for sharing news and information quickly to a large group, let’s take a look at how these posts can hurt your case if you have a pending legal matter or are under investigation.
False Sense of Security
We often think that when we are on our computer or our phone, we have safety and privacy in our posts. This has led to a false sense of security. Recent events in the news regarding social media apps have shown that there are many companies that have access to our data. When something is placed online, whether it’s Facebook or another social media platform, we do not know who is viewing our content. But one thing is for sure, EVERY company can allow law enforcement to view the content. Social media companies actively participate with law enforcement to create a safe environment online.
Examples of Evidence
If you have a criminal case ongoing or there is an investigation that involves you, here are some examples of ways law enforcement may use social media that can affect you:
- Announcements of your behavior – ex: “I got arrested yesterday for driving without insurance!”
- Descriptions of your recent or past actions – ex: “I been driving without insurance for 2 years! Finally got busted!”
- Trashing your employer while you are out on a work related injury “I hope I never have to go back when I get better”
- Images or information that suggest more serious crimes or additional crimes – ex: “I am really freaking out! I think I hit someone but I was drinking and I left the scene. How can I find out if he is ok?”
- Photos of a large party with drugs in the background
- Information that may support or negate an alibi ex: photos showing him with his friends drinking at the time of the hit and run in the vicinity of where there was a person hit
- Information or conversations that indicate a planning of the crime (goes to premeditation) – ex: “Dude, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. I was supposed to just hit a car. There wasn’t supposed to be a person in it. How did this happen?” (written in a private message on social media)
- Information from posts (check ins) of places where you repaired your car after an accident that you claimed you were not involved in
- Photos of you doing things you should not be doing while out on a work related injury – ex: digging in the garden when you are on restricted duty from a back injury.
These examples above are all real. They happen. People LOVE to share every day moments on their social media even if it means they could be sharing to the entire world.
What To Do?
Many people realize they have posted something that may harm their case and delete the post and any comments. Unfortunately, this does not erase the information. If law enforcement has already begun to investigate, chances are they have seen the information, and your deletion of it only makes you appear more suspicious. If you have an open workers’ comp or accident claim, this information can be pulled.
Here are the recommended steps to take in these situations:
- Do not panic.
- If you have NOT yet posted about your legal situation (criminal or civil), DO NOT. We know it’s tempting to vent. Do not do it online.
- If you have posted about it, leave it alone and do not post anymore about it. Do not even comment on it.
- Most important – Obtain some legal advice from an attorney.
- Remember that legal advice can only come from a licensed attorney. Your friends and family may have all of the best advice on how they handled their situation but each situation is unique to the facts.
Contact Us Now
If you find yourself in a situation where you have posted social media and this may affect a legal case, Ty Wilson has the knowledge and experience to help with your case. There is no reason to let a mistake or a bad decision affect your entire life. Contact Ty by clicking here.