If you are like most American adults, you spend a relatively significant amount of time engaged on social media platforms. These resources are valuable in that they can keep people connected and invested in various concerns and causes in ways that would be difficult otherwise. However, if you’re under investigation or you’ve been accused of criminal wrongdoing, it’s time to take a break from social media.
Ultimately, anything that you say or do on a public platform like Facebook or X right now could harm your criminal defense strategy. And when it comes to preserving your rights – and possibly even your freedom – it is far better to be safe than sorry.
What can go wrong?
One of the primary ways in which social media can harm a defendant’s case involves through self-incrimination. Posts, messages, photographs or even ‘likes’ can be construed as admissions of guilt or can contradict statements made in defense.
Additionally, social media profiles often serve as a window into a person’s life and character. Prosecutors may scrutinize a defendant’s social media for evidence of character traits or behaviors that could negatively influence a jury’s perception. For example, pictures depicting drug use or aggressive behavior can be damaging in a case.
Because prosecutors now commonly scroll social media accounts for evidence, they might also use social media to establish a motive or intent. Comments or interactions on social platforms could be interpreted to show premeditation, hostility towards the victim or connections to criminal activities.
And finally, especially in high-profile cases, social media can shape public opinion, which in turn can influence jury selection and juror bias. Although jurors are instructed to decide based on evidence presented in court, preconceived notions developed through social media exposure can be hard to completely disregard.
As your case evolves, keep in mind that your social media activity can negatively impact the defense that you and your attorney are working so hard to build. Abstaining from using these platforms now could significantly benefit your future.