If you are like most American adults, you spend a fair bit of time on social media. However, for criminal defendants, using social media can have serious repercussions on their case. As a result, if you’re facing criminal charges, it’s important to stay off social media platforms until your case is resolved.
This is not necessarily going to be an easy task. After all, you may rely on social media for connection with loved ones, interactions with others who are passionate about the same things that you are, information and support more generally. However, maintaining your freedom and your reputation is the most consequential thing you can do right now. And staying off social media can help.
Why is it a good idea to “just say no” to social media right now?
One of the primary reasons for criminal defendants to avoid social media is the risk of self-incrimination. Posts, comments, photos or even ‘likes’ can be interpreted in ways that might not be intended. Prosecutors can scrutinize social media activity for any evidence that could be used against the defendant in court. Even seemingly innocent posts can sometimes be taken out of context and harm your defense strategy.
Additionally, what you post on social media can contradict statements made during your case. For instance, claiming financial hardship but then posting pictures of expensive purchases or vacations can undermine your credibility, even if they are taken out of context. The legal system places a high premium on consistency, and discrepancies can severely damage your case.
You might be thinking, “Oh, I’ll just be careful when I’m on social media, I don’t have to stop using it altogether.” But, even with strict privacy settings, the information on social media platforms is never entirely private. Shared friends, screenshots and even platform data policies can lead to personal information reaching unintended audiences, including law enforcement and prosecutors.
At the end of the day, when your freedom and reputation are at stake, it is better to be safe than sorry. It is better to stay off social media for now.