When facing an arrest and criminal charges in Texas, you might feel the urge to vent about your situation on your favorite social media channels. After all, your followers are your friends and family, and posting about it couldn’t hurt, right? Wrong. Publishing a post about your recent arrest on Facebook or Instagram in Texas isn’t as harmless as you think. In the new age of social media and technology, police are taking to the web to gather evidence against defendants in criminal cases.
Police officers, prosecutors, and investigators will look for any shred of evidence against you they can find in a criminal case. This includes a simple Google search that will come up with all the social media profiles in your name. There is nothing stopping prosecutors from using the information, posts, photographs, and videos on your social media pages against you in a court of law. In fact, assume this is the case. One survey found 59% of law enforcement agency respondents had contacted social media companies to obtain information to use as evidence.
Social media allows prosecutors to get to know you before you ever step foot in a courtroom. It gives them a broad overview of your history – however many years back you have available online. The other side can search through your words, shares, videos, photos, and conversations with friends to determine facts like possible intent to commit the crime, where you were in the days and hours leading up to the crime, and if you were with any witnesses or accomplices.
Social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn automatically come with timestamps, GPS location tracking, tagged friends, and other information that makes putting the pieces together easy for prosecutors. If you have posted anything incriminating about yourself, your friends, your recent actions, or an arrest, it can come back to haunt you during your criminal trial.
As someone under arrest in Texas, do not post anything on any of your social media accounts. Even if you don’t think you’re oversharing, prosecutors can twist what you say or publish, and turn into evidence against you. You may have already posted incriminating evidence, such as photos of you with stolen goods. Further posting will only make your situation worse. Instead, contact a lawyer for advice about what to do next.
Deleting your social media accounts won’t do any good if you’re already under arrest and can actually make your actions appear suspicious. Police can access deleted accounts and information if they want. Instead, simply stay off social media. Don’t post anything, like anything, comment on anything, tag your location, or update your stories. Communicate with your Houston criminal defense attorney in person or over the phone about how to diffuse the situation. Your lawyer can help you examine how much your social accounts may have already hurt your case and what defense strategies or plea bargains might be available. In the meantime, stay entirely off of social media.