How Has Social Media Changed Criminal Law?

Social media is overtaking our lives. Today, people turn to platforms such as Facebook, Periscope, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter for their daily news updates. While this provides a quick and easy way to stay informed, it can come at a price if you are charged with a crime.

Social media is a valuable tool used by law enforcement officials to thwart crime. With the ability to monitor these sites, police can easily track perpetrators and find evidence that can put you behind bars. They need less manpower on the streets and can often stop a crime before it happens through photos and comments an individual makes without any further thought.

The use of social media to arrest and charge individuals with a crime is a far cry from the days when hard physical evidence was necessary to prosecute a criminal. Today, police are able to use social media as evidence in court to discredit a witness, show involvement in a crime, and highlight the events leading up to a criminal act.

For many individuals, using social media comes without consequences. There may be little thought to bragging about a crime or videotaping it in its entirety. These images can and will be used against you in court, and you need to consider how you are using social media on a daily basis to protect your legal rights.

Do Lawyers Use Social Media As Evidence?

Lawyers have also become savvy to the use of social media to defend their clients. They can seek to make it admissible evidence in court when warranted. While there is the Stored Communications Act that can protect your rights to release social media evidence, if there is a preponderance that its submission could significantly help a case, it can and will be used against you.

Your attorney may use social media to show check-ins at a certain location or photos that prove you were not involved in a crime. But, they bear the responsibility of proving beyond a doubt that you are innocent and social media is only a tool that can support these claims.

How Does Social Media Lead To Arrests?

In many instances, social media has led to arrests. It can show a check-in at a location at the very time that a crime occurred. It can show images of cash and valuables stolen or comments that you intended to commit a crime.

Some individuals may even admit to another friend about their crime spree, recording the message through social media where it can later be retrieved. Videos are also incriminating as they show events leading up to a crime or even the actual crime event.

Even when you are using a platform such as Snapchat, you are opening yourself up to scrutiny. While these images disappear in a matter of seconds, they are actually stored by the company and can be retrieved should you be involved in a criminal case. Broadcasting to your friends that you did indeed commit a crime as intended may come back and haunt you with an image that you thought was long forgotten.

Trends In Social Media Shaping The 21st Century

As social media continues to evolve and shape the way that society receives information, it is also changing the criminal justice system at every turn. Police are not only using the tool to catch would-be criminals, but they are using the technology as a communication source for the public at large.

By using social media, police officials can easily and quickly communicate dangers or warnings to the public in short burst messages that can keep them safe and informed. They are also enlisting the help of the public to catch criminals involved in various unlawful acts by using social media. It is proving to be an easy way to ask for help from the community and reduce crime in the process.

The community is taking advantage of social media and its ability to connect directly to police officials by offering tips on crimes and helping the police to keep their community safe. This provides a platform for the public to remain involved in their community and helps to keep it secure when they see something that they know is illegal.

You never know who is looking at your social media. Even if it is not law enforcement officials, it could easily be a friend that is willing to turn you into police in exchange for their own innocence. Protect your legal rights and think before you post on social media.

When you are arrested as part of a criminal and are worried about your social media exposure, you need lawyers that you can trust to help you with your case. The attorneys at Joffe Law, P.A. are ready to assist you. They can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process to clear your name. Contact us today at 954-723-0007 to set up a consultation.