How Social Media Can Hurt You in a Criminal Case

By Bo Kalabus
www.rosenthalwadas.com;
b.kalabus@rosenthalwadas.com
24-hour Jail Release: 214-402-4364

If you have a pending criminal case, or if you believe you may be under criminal investigation in Texas, you have to appreciate just how powerful social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be on the outcome of your case (or investigation) before it even gets started.

Social media first became popular to young people years ago and now just about everyone is connecting online in some way. You can usually find out some basic information about a person you have just met by searching their name on Facebook. Prosecutors and investigators understand this and will do the same thing. What does you Facebook wall or Twitter page say about what type of person you are?

To help keep yourself away from potential social media legal issues, you must first understand how social media posts can impact you in criminal cases.

It’s possible the words you write and pictures or videos you post can prove damaging in criminal cases. Although it may seem harmless at first, these communications become important when posts demonstrate you did or said something at the time it was posted. The quote will be there good or bad with no context. For example, if you post on Facebook how angry you are at a person and the next day you are in a fight with them and get arrested for assault, the State may use your quote to show your state of mind to try to prove you were the aggressor. Here are some other examples I commonly see in my practice

  • Descriptions and announcements of behavior
           Threats, anger, depression, “wanting to get hammered”, bragging about crimes, etc.
  •  Descriptions or photos of drug use, paraphernalia, or other instruments of criminal activity
          Drugs, illegally obtained firearms, and other illegal weapons
  • Statements or images that place you at a given location
         Checking in at bars (or multiple bars) at a specific times, or pictures of drinking—usually not good evidence in DWIs cases-especially if you are bond for a DWI      charge.
  •  Images or descriptions that implicate you in more serious crimes or illegal activity
         Pictures of you with large amounts of drugs, stolen property, or firearms.

Although you may believe these thoughts or pictures are protected from public view based on what you have selected in your account’s privacy settings; however, the settings guarantee nothing. Facebook and other platforms actively participate with law enforcement to reveal “protected” information. Never assume information you put online isn’t accessible to those who might be investigating you for evidence of criminal activity.

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