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  • former deputy public defender

    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

  • award winning certified criminal law specialist

    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

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    Your lawyer should have a passion for defense, not just a passion for money. Reputation, vigor, and determination go a long way in this business.

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How Social Media Can Weaken Your Defense in a Criminal Case

Posted in General FAQ'S on January 22, 2016

Some people live out their lives on social media. They post everything that happens to them, from their first coffee in the morning until their fight with a boyfriend or girlfriend at night. Unfortunately, these social interactions can be used as evidence in certain cases. If you’re facing criminal charges, what you post on social media could hurt your defense case. Here are some of the major ways social media posts may damage your case:

1) You don’t see any harm in posting. Everyone writes posts when they’re emotional. What’s the harm? Social media accounts can provide people with a false sense of security. They may think that their posts are protected because the account is set to private or because they can’t see the link between a post and a criminal case. Some social media networks cooperate fully with police investigations, leaving all of your content vulnerable to prosecutor scrutiny.

2) You deleted the content so it’s no longer a problem. What goes on the internet stays on the internet. Start thinking very carefully before you post something personal on a social media account. Whether you mean it or wanted to say it that way may not matter in a court room. Forensic technology investigators may uncover deleted posts and use them as evidence in some cases. If prosecutors can prove you purposefully destroyed evidence, they may ask the judge and jury to look at your case more harshly.

3) You didn’t post anything incriminating. In a criminal case, it may not matter if you or someone else posted the content. Once it’s online, it can lead an investigator to your door and incriminate you in a way that may be hard to contest. If anyone takes pictures or makes a post about behavior that incriminates you, it may be used against you.

4) You think it’s okay to post social media updates about your case. Listen to your attorney’s advice about social media posts if you’re facing a criminal investigation or criminal charges. You may not need to completely shut down your social media account, but what you post after the fact could hurt you as much as what you posted before.

5) You didn’t intend for your post to be taken seriously. If you make a threat or admit to a crime on social media, the prosecution may enter the post into evidence as an admission of guilt. Just as you shouldn’t joke about having a bomb at an airport, you don’t joke with threats or confessions on social media. Once it’s posted, you may never have an opportunity to correct the “tone” or “feeling” behind the post.

6) You didn’t tell your attorney everything about your social media use. Your criminal defense attorney needs to know the whole story to help you fight criminal charges. If you don’t tell him or her everything you know about what you posted on social media or what might be posted, that evidence could surface later and take you off-guard. During a criminal investigation, your attorney should be prepared to answer all questions the prosecution may present.

During a criminal investigation, any social media activity can present a problem. From checking in at a restaurant to friends tagging you in a party photo, social media has become a major source of evidence for prosecutors. Law enforcement and prosecutors may use Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope, Foursquare, Vine, Instagram and other popular social media networks to target individuals accused of crimes.

Protect yourself on social media by carefully filtering what you post, and always talk to your attorney about your social media habits. For help fighting any criminal charges, contact the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC today.