The attorneys at Alperstein & Diener explain how a person’s social media activity could affect his or her case while in the midst of a legal battle.
Over the past decade, social media platforms have taken the world by storm, and the amount of channels available for public use is constantly increasing. What was once a method for connecting with former classmates is now a virtual, public diary on display for the world to view and scrutinize. Although these outlets are an enjoyable, effective way to connect with people, there is a significant amount of personal information circulating across cyberspace. If you find yourself appearing before a judge in a courtroom, that plethora of personal information you decided to share with the world could be your worst enemy.
Understanding the Authority
If you’ve ever been arrested, or seen a law-related television show, then you are most likely familiar with the Miranda rights, especially one part – “… Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…” The same concept applies to an individual’s activity on social media from a legal standpoint. Anything you post on social media can and will be used against you in the courtroom regardless of your intentions.
Every social media user must learn that there is a difference between “private” and “not public.” Simply switching a social media account to private does not mean that court officials will never see or have access to the information. Even if you share content with a select group of people that you deem private, it is still considered public information and admissible as evidence.
While it is relatively easy to search for a specific person on social media and pull up his or her page to see what they’ve been posting, it can also be just as easy to gain access to all of the posted content on Facebook and Twitter accounts. Users can request a file that contains timeline posts, messages, photos, the IP address of login locations and much more. However, the content can be available to attorneys and law enforcement personnel as well. Even though your information may not be visible from the front end of your social media account, law enforcement could be granted a warrant to retrieve a user’s login information to search through the account for various pieces of information and in some cases an attorney could subpoena the information from the service provider directly. So, whether an attorney is reviewing the public page or gaining access to content with login credentials, the person in question is never in the clear.
Social Media Activity Is Not Restricted to One Practice Area
The issue of social media presence and activity does not fall under just one area of law. Although the most common legal battles in which social media activity plays a huge role throughout a case is family law, people involved with disability, employment, sexual harassment or bankruptcy (just to name a few) cases are not exempt.
The content found on a social media account can be used as a key piece of evidence to prove a person’s whereabouts or as corroborating evidence to showcase a person’s character. For example, if a couple is filing for bankruptcy, they are claiming that they don’t have sufficient funds and/or assets to pay for their debts. However, once brought to the attention of the courts, an in-depth investigation could take place where a legal representative finds a recent photo on social media of the couple in what they claim to be their vacation home. To many, that may not seem like a couple in financial despair. This is just one of thousands of scenarios that could stem from social media use during a legal battle.
How to Avoid It
Stay away from social media while your court case is active. Even if your intentions are good, and you just want to publish a post about your positive emotions, your best bet is to avoid it altogether until your legal issues are resolved and your case is closed. Although no results are guaranteed, people will have the greatest chance of achieving their desired outcome if they put the technology aside and focus on their legal matter.
For more information about how social media impacts your court case or your personal legal circumstances, contact the attorneys at Alperstein & Diener.