Social media connects us all the time. You have apps on your phone that you can access in seconds. You share information readily. You may use these apps as your main form of communication with friends, family members and co-workers.
Then you get arrested on drug charges. You don’t feel like the police have much evidence against you, but they seem intent on taking it to court. What you start wondering is if they’re going to use your social media accounts against you. Can they?
Social media as evidence
Your profiles and the information you post can certainly be used against you if it pertains to the case. Much of this information is publicly available. When the prosecution comes to court, they may come armed with printouts and digital files taken from Facebook, Instagram and similar sites.
For example, perhaps the police accused you of selling drugs to a friend of yours, and you said you didn’t see that person on the night in question. However, they find a picture of the two of you together, and you’re tagged on Facebook. The picture has a timestamp. They may use that to show not only that you did meet with the other person but also that you lied about it after it happened.
What about private information?
Maybe you don’t make your information public, or maybe you went back and deleted all public posts after you got arrested. What about private information? The average person can’t see this information, but can the police access it?
They can, in many cases. Generally, the police just have to get a warrant. They can then take that to the social media company and request the information. While every case is different, experts note that these companies often “readily hand over their customers’ online content.”
You may think of this as private, confidential information, but you have to remember that you are using someone else’s platform. They created the site or the app. They own it. They can access and store the information you give to them. It’s not nearly as private as it feels like it should be, and they may give it to the prosecution without a second thought. It could become the determining factor in the case.
With modern technology, even simple drug cases can grow very complicated. It is crucial that anyone who gets accused of a crime knows exactly what legal options they have in Texas and what steps they can take to prepare a proper defense.