If you are like most American adults, you use social media platforms as a medium for sharing personal moments, opinions and experiences. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. However, if you have been charged with a crime, it’s time to log off until your case has been fully resolved.
Engaging in social media activity at this time can result in profound and unintended consequences. Why? Online posts, comments and even private messages can become critical pieces of evidence in legal proceedings, potentially complicating your defense strategy. And with so much at stake, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
What’s the big deal?
Anything shared on social media, no matter how innocent it may seem, can be scrutinized and potentially misinterpreted. Prosecutors can and do comb through suspects’ and defendants’ social media profiles for information that could be presented as admissions of guilt, indications of motive or evidence of character.
A casual comment or a seemingly unrelated photo can be taken out of context and used to undermine your credibility or contradict your statements to law enforcement or the court. Why give prosecutors or a judge potential excuses to affect your future negatively? By staying off social media right now, you can minimize the likelihood that you’ll unintentionally say or do something that could come back to haunt you later.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that privacy settings on social media platforms can offer a false sense of security. Many users believe that their information is shielded from prying eyes if they set their profiles to “private.” However, legal authorities can obtain warrants that compel social media companies to release user information, including private messages and deleted posts. Therefore, if you’re thinking that you’ll stay logged in but you’ll just keep your activity private, you need to think twice.
Ultimately, staying off social media right now is your best course of action/inaction. Once your case has concluded, you’ll be able to use these platforms however you choose. But for now, it’s best to stay away.