By: Passalacqua & Associates

Can Social Media Activity Be Used Against You in Criminal Proceedings?

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Can Social Media Posts Become Evidence in a Criminal Trial?

More than four out of five police detectives have found evidence online that became part of a criminal investigation. If you are charged with a crime in the Syracuse area because of something you posted online, you must contact a Syracuse criminal defense attorney immediately.

As you probably know, millions of people use social media sites like Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook to share comments, photos, and videos about their daily lives. However, this casual openness can hurt you if you are accused of committing a crime.

In a criminal prosecution, the state’s task is to prove that you are guilty as charged beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is anything online indicating that you have been involved in criminal activity, a prosecutor may use your social media comments, photos, and videos against you.

How Do Criminal Investigators Use Social Media?

If you are the target of a criminal investigation, the police and prosecutors will gather evidence that can be used against you, and this includes any evidence they find on your social media accounts.

You may use the privacy settings, and you may be thinking that what you’ve posted is private, but nothing online is ever truly fully private. Even comments, photos, and videos that you have deleted or marked as private can be uncovered by investigators and used against you.

Criminal investigators sometimes create false identities online or fictitious Twitter and Facebook accounts to seek evidence. Social media posts can be used, for example, to disprove an alibi, to demonstrate a motive, or to create a timeline of the events that led to a crime.

Prosecutors also use social media to look for contradictions that could weaken a defendant’s case. For instance, if you claim to have been somewhere at a specific time, but social media shows you were somewhere else, the prosecution can claim that your testimony is unreliable.

What Kinds of Evidence Can Be Found on Social Media Sites?

Social media can leave a trail of evidence that can point to a defendant’s guilt. Direct messages and private text threads may be subject to subpoena and used against you at trial. Deleted messages, emails, and text messages can also be uncovered and used against you.

Your social media accounts may offer criminal investigators a picture of your life and activities. Your previous behavior – even if it is not directly related to the specific crime you are charged with – could paint a picture of you that may not be very helpful to you in a criminal case.

If there are pictures or videos online of wild or drunken behavior, for example, you will have a hard time fighting a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge. If there are pictures of your gun collection or pictures of you brandishing weapons, it will be difficult to fight a firearms charge.

If you have conversations online with known criminals, you could become a person of interest to investigators. It’s important to avoid any and all online conversations about criminal activity. Even a joke – or anything else you post online – could be twisted and used against you.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

You should be careful about what you post and who your online “friends” and followers are. Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you do not already know. If you know that you are under investigation, discuss your case only with your Syracuse criminal defense lawyer.

Even if your social media posts make you look guilty, you must be careful about deleting those posts. Deleting something that a prosecutor is seeking could be illegal and could jeopardize your defense. Seek advice from your Syracuse criminal defense lawyer about your posts from the past.

While social media evidence is often incriminating and compelling evidence, its admissibility in a particular criminal case depends on its authenticity and other legal criteria such as the credibility, relevance, and reliability of the evidence.

Is Your Case Pending?

If you’ve been charged with a crime, or if you are being investigated for a crime, it’s best to stop using social media entirely. Do not give the prosecution anything else that could be misunderstood or twisted and used against you.

Instead, seek legal assistance at once. A Syracuse criminal defense attorney will provide the personalized legal advice you need, protect your rights, and develop a defense strategy that is appropriate, aggressive, and effective.

Your lawyer may seek to have the charge dropped or the case dismissed. If the evidence of your guilt is overwhelming, your lawyer may be allowed to negotiate a plea deal. In most plea deals, you’ll plead guilty to a lesser charge in return for alternative or reduced sentencing.

Will Your Case Go to Trial?

If you are innocent of the charge against you, and if the charge cannot be dropped or dismissed, you may insist on your right to a trial by jury. At trial, your attorney will cast doubt on the state’s evidence, explain to the jurors what actually happened, and ask the jurors to find you not guilty.

But with so many criminal defense lawyers in the Syracuse area, how can you locate a lawyer who will make your case a priority, fight aggressively on your behalf, and bring your case to its best possible resolution?

There’s no need to make an extensive search for the right attorney. The criminal defense attorneys at Passalacqua & Associates have the experience, knowledge, skills, and the determination you need.

Why Should You Choose Passalacqua & Associates?

The award-winning criminal defense team at Passalacqua & Associates has over thirty years of experience representing and fighting on behalf of criminal defendants in the Syracuse and Utica areas.

We will see to it that your rights are protected and that you are treated justly and fairly by New York’s criminal justice system. We know how to challenge evidence gathered from social media accounts, and in some situations, we can keep that evidence from being used against you at trial.

Now or in the future, if you’re charged with a crime in New York State – or under investigation for any crime that involves the internet or evidence gathered from the internet – call Passalacqua & Associates immediately at 315-277-3548. We’ll provide a no-cost, in-depth evaluation of your case without obligation.