Advancements in technology in the last decade have greatly changed how we stay connected to one another. Numerous social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, are transforming how we share the details of our lives with others. These platforms are a great way to stay connected with family and friends, and to create networking opportunities. However, the information we present on them can be used as evidence during criminal investigations.
Law enforcement authorities are capable of using different forms of evidence against you in the court of law, including social media. While you may think that your personal information is be protected on these platforms because you have adjusted your privacy settings, it doesn’t guarantee anything. Platforms, including Facebook, can cooperate with law enforcement to reveal various “protected” information if it may be of help to them. It’s also possible that prosecutors may comb through your profiles online to look for connections with criminal entities and find evidence of criminal acts. The information they obtain can also enable them to establish probable cause for searching a suspects’ home.
Mentioned below are some ways in which social media is capable of affecting your criminal case.
Posting on Social Media
Everything that you post can be used against you in a criminal case. For example, imagine you have posted a status saying you wish to cause harm to someone. The next day, the two of you somehow get involved in a physical quarrel and you are arrested and charged with assault. It will be easy for the prosecution to use your social media post from the previous day against you to show your state of mind. They can use it to prove you are the aggressor and can also imply that the entire situation was a deliberate act of violence.
Checking-in at Locations
Many social media apps allow users to check-in to different locations they visit throughout the day. This data can be used by law enforcement to prove where you were at the time. A web check-in can also confirm whether you were in the vicinity of where the crime was committed.
It doesn’t matter whether there are incriminating pictures on your pages or if you’ve been tagged in the picture by someone else. Photographs can easily be used as evidence against you during an on-going investigation. For instance, say you are facing a DUI charge and you had posted pictures at a bar you were at earlier that night. They can be used as evidence to prove you were, indeed, inebriated when you got behind the wheel. Remember that deleting the pictures after being charged with an offence doesn’t mean they have become inaccessible. Many networks are capable of retrieving deleted information.
When under investigation for any kind of criminal case, it’s wise not to use any social media until the case has been solved. Your profiles will most likely be monitored closely. This is why you should refrain from uploading or posting things that can be used to incriminate you and damage your case. The safest measure to take is to contact a trusted criminal lawyer who can provide better guidance. Harpreet Saini, a leading criminal defence attorney in Brampton and Toronto, can help defend you in a court of law.