Social media has become an integral part of our lives, with more and more people connecting, sharing, and communicating online. From posting pictures to tweeting about what we're doing, social media has made it easier for us to stay connected than ever before. However, an increasing number of criminal cases have raised the question: can social media be used as evidence in a criminal case?
In this blog post, we will explore how prosecutors use social media as evidence in courtrooms across the country, the kinds of data that may be admissible in a criminal trial, and the implications for individuals who use social media. We hope to provide greater insight into how social media can potentially affect your legal rights and responsibilities.
Understanding How Evidence Is Used in Criminal Cases
Evidence in a criminal case can include both people (witnesses) and things (exhibits). People who can give evidence in a criminal case vary; they include any of the involved parties, individuals with knowledge pertinent to the case, and experts on an important topic connected to the case. These witnesses can be called to court or even subpoenaed if they do not agree to come willingly to answer questions in front of either a judge or jury.
Having witnesses testify during criminal proceedings helps provide insight into the specifics of the case for better or more accurate representation. Evidence can help reveal additional information that wouldn’t have been known otherwise, so it’s important for all involved parties to understand its role in a criminal trial.
Gathering evidence is an essential part of any criminal case. As such, social media is showing up more and more frequently in criminal cases. Keep reading to learn more about the unique challenges social media evidence creates.
Issues of Authenticity and Admissibility
Social media evidence has become increasingly important in criminal cases due to its wide adoption and utility. However, using this type of evidence is challenging, as authenticity and admissibility remain central issues. Digital evidence can be manipulated and modified, so authenticating a post can be difficult for prosecutors. Additionally, getting the post admitted into evidence requires establishing certain standards and determining whether it meets the conditions for reliability and relevancy.
Despite the aforementioned challenges, anything one posts on social media, along with the metadata associated with their account, is open to being used as evidence in court. As such, people should exercise caution when sharing online and operate under the assumption that once something is posted, it is online forever, even if you believe you have deleted it.
How Social Media Evidence Can Affect the Outcome of a Case
Social media evidence can seriously impact the outcome of a criminal case. It can be used to support or discredit a defendant's narrative, making it extremely important for legal professionals to understand the implications of social media before proceeding with a case. While undeniably useful in aiding with investigations, those handling social media evidence should always be mindful of how easy it is for digital records to be doctored and misinterpreted; a single post can easily be distorted out of context. As such, extra caution must always be observed when incorporating social media into legal proceedings.
If you are facing criminal charges and are concerned about how your social media accounts may be used against you, contact the criminal defense team at Foley Griffin for advice. We have a clear understanding of the important role social media plays in criminal cases, and we can use this knowledge to help you, too.