Anything You Post Can And Will Be Used Against You

by ShelbyW on April 25, 2013

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Social media has quickly become a force to be reckoned with. From the relatively quick rise and fall of Myspace to the monopolistic takeover of Facebook, social media has become a part of many people’s everyday lives. Unfortunately, with this phenomenon being such a huge part of the modern day world, it was bound to happen that the law would find a way to start using it against people.

Those who face DUI charges have often found themselves on the wrong end of the law after posting incriminating material online, so it’s important to completely understand social media as it pertains to the law. As the website of a highly respected Orlando DUI Attorney warns, “Remember, anything you say to police may be used later in your case.” These days, the same warning would apply to anything you post online as well.

Is Social Media Really Being Used In Court?

There’s literally no doubt that social media is now being used consistently in criminal courts. Many people remember the recent rape case in Steubenville, Ohio. What they don’t realize is that prosecutors built their case almost solely on statuses, videos and photos uploaded to social media. Unfortunately for those charged with DUI, this same sleuth-like work may be put into convicting a person of DUI.

In a more relatable case, a Kentucky woman was arrested for drunk driving after having struck another vehicle. She may have thought it was cute posting a status update about getting drunk and hitting the car followed quickly with an “LOL”, but the judge didn’t really think so. In fact, the woman even ended up being held in contempt of court for her damning post.

Can The Legal System Access My Private Profile?

“But my profile is on private,” said the person right before being convicted. On a serious note, however, prosecutors can easily use a person’s social media page, even if it’s private, against them. Some law enforcement officials have taken to creating fake social pages and getting suspects to add them so that they can see their updates. Of course, the courts may also be able to subpoena social media records, but they most likely won’t just for a DUI. This doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t have further measures.

Prosecutors aren’t supposed to speak with defendants while a trial is going on. This doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t talk to their friends. Even on private profiles, a person’s friends list is usually still visible. It can sometimes be very easy to find a person’s friend who happens to be in a picture with them and then elicit information from them. In fact, if that picture was taken and uploaded a short time before the arrest, the defendant better hope that they don’t have an alcoholic beverage in their hand.

What Should I Avoid Posting?

There are an abundance of things that a person should avoid, and this pertains to both before and after being charged. First off, it’s usually not a wise idea to post pictures of parties and alcohol in the first place. This is usually common sense since employers routinely check potential employees’ social media pages, but in addition, prosecutors may be able to convince a jury of a history of problem drinking.

It’s also important for a person to keep in mind that if they are going to post pictures of themselves partying, they shouldn’t do it while still out and about. If they end up getting arrested for DUI minutes after these pictures are posted, the timing of the photos will be quite damning.

A person should also never post anything about the case before, during or after it takes place. Prosecutors, as mentioned above, can get access to these posts. A person who makes the mistake of saying “I’m never drunk driving again” or who explains how they plan on beating the charge may be in for a rude awakening when they walk into the court and the prosecution has provided the judge with a printout of these statements.

All of these things can be detrimental to a case, so it’s important to have an attorney who is experienced in and up to date on handling these new nuances to the legal system. A person wouldn’t hire a divorce attorney to handle their DUI, so they shouldn’t hire an out-of-touch attorney for a case that may come down to social media.

Social media is a great thing in many aspects, but when it comes to the legal system, especially as it pertains to DUIs and other criminal charges, it may do much more harm than good. Far too many people have been convicted based on their own inopportune and unthoughtful social media posts. In reality, it only takes a bit of common sense to not end up in these tight situations. As a rule, if a person doesn’t want their mother, grandmother, children or preacher to see it, then it shouldn’t go on social media.

Shelby Warden is a legal researcher who writes articles to raise awareness of legal rights. The Orlando DUI Law Firm of Katz & Phillips, P.A. knows the ins and outs of all criminal charges, including DUI. Considering how quickly things change these days, it’s easy to see how someone who faces DUI charges without a skilled attorney might be falsely convicted.

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