Social media has become a major part of how people interact with one another and even their daily lives. People may check for community news or updates from loved ones on social media. They may also join groups to digitally socialize with people who have the same interests or values as they do.
How you behave on social media can affect your relationships in the real world. It could also affect what happens if you find yourself facing criminal charges. Believe it or not, what you say and do on social media could actually play a role in the prosecution’s case against you. How might prosecutors use your social media accounts against you?
They can use it to connect you to certain criminal activity
If you frequently share memes joking about violence or drug use, that could give police officers a connection between you and the illegal activity they suspect you committed. While the people who know you may understand that your posts are of a humorous or satirical nature, neither the prosecutor nor the jury in your case will necessarily believe that.
They can use it to attack your character
Even if you don’t share memes or photos that relate to certain criminal activities, the way you present yourself and interact with others online could affect how the judge and jury see you. If you frequently troll others, abuse them or make threats against them online, that might make you look dangerous or volatile to a jury.
They can use it to recreate a timeline of events
Your public posts and even content that you later delete or turn private on various social media platforms could show where you were or what you did around the time of the alleged crime. That could help prosecutors create a timeline that seems convincing to the jury.
It’s also possible that subpoenaed records of private or direct messages sent over social media platforms could implicate you because of the kind of language that you use. Unfortunately, the brash and often exaggerated way that people behave on social media can be particularly problematic for those facing criminal charges.
Understanding how social media might affect your criminal case can help you make better decisions about what you share online.