Many of us post intimate details about ourselves and our lives on social media accounts like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. These details, however, could be a problem if we are accused of a crime — particularly if they are publicly available for anyone to see.
However, even if your Facebook or Instagram account is private, you might be surprised to hear that prosecutors could potentially gain access to your Facebook account information — even the information that’s private — by getting a court order from a judge. Especially if you have been accused of committing a crime on social media or through social media, prosecutors may be able to use your supposedly private information against you.
Let’s look at some of the most common crimes people are accused of committing through their social media accounts:
- Stalking, internet-based threats and cyber-bullying: Texas residents have used evidence from Facebook and other social media accounts to prove that someone has been threatening their safety or stalking them. People have also used this evidence to prove that cyber-bullying and harassment has occurred.
- Fraud and hacking crimes: Computer hacking crimes could be evident through data obtained on a social media network.
- Illegal purchases and sales of contraband materials: Facebook and other social media messaging services are commonly used by individuals who want to illegally buy and sell illegal drugs, weapons and other contraband.
- Posting videos that portray criminal actions: Whether it’s because they want to brag to friends or not, some individuals have been known to post videos that show they have committed a criminal act.
- Using social media to see that someone has taken a vacation and therefore their home is vacant and easier to rob: It’s sad to think that sharing vacation photographs with your Facebook friends could result in a robbery, but we can’t always trust the people we befriend on Facebook.
All of the above crimes are possible on social media and a great deal more. If you’ve been accused of any kind of crime, you might want to think about your social media accounts because the information contained in these accounts might be discoverable — and it could be used against you — during your criminal trial. The more you know about your case and criminal defense law, the better you’ll be able to defend against your criminal allegations.