Social media can change the way your criminal case is viewed. It can work positively for or negatively against you. Social networking has allowed for community policing, networking to find missing children and even to alert others of suspicious activities in the neighborhood, but it can also be a source for police to look for criminal acts or to confirm criminal suspicions.
If you think that you can get away with writing about a crime that you’ve participated in without the police searching and finding you online, you are incorrect. Social media is public on the whole, so the police do not need a search warrant to view user profiles or statuses. The courts are also affected by social media. Jurors can disregard instructions and search for you online, doing their own background research, which is not something they should be doing legally. If you discover this, it’s possible that you could ask to have the juror replaced.
Social networking is a valuable intelligence-gathering tool, and it can work for you, too. If you’ve been accused of a crime, for example, you can look up the accuser’s page to search for evidence of the person talking about what happened. If you have chat with that person that confirms that you did not participate in a criminal act, then this is another way to disprove allegations against you.
Here’s an example. If someone accuses you of raping him or her, you should try to show the court that the other person was actually willing and was a consenting party. To do this, it helps if you can show that the other person was asking to have a sexual relationship with you or if you can refer to a chat that happened after you had the relationship where the other person was fine and said nothing about allegations of rape. You could also prove that the person is lying if he or she sends messages threatening to go to the police and claim rape if you don’t do something that he or she wants.
Social networking can work in both ways, and you and your attorney can search through your evidence to find the best support for your side of the case.
Source: GovTech.com, “How Social Media Is Changing Law Enforcement,” Wayne Hanson, accessed Oct. 28, 2016