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How Does Social Media and Digital Evidence Impact Criminal Defense Strategies?

Twenty years ago, social media was in its infancy. MySpace, launched in 2003, was the first social media platform; three years later, Facebook was founded and would soon exceed the number of Myspace users. 

With Facebook, social networking connects people who share data. In the past two decades, people now connect to others through a small smartphone in their hand or a laptop computer.  

For many, social media replaces face-to-face interaction, and an entire generation has adopted a communication style based on exchanging digital data.  

Defendant’s counsel can no longer ignore the importance of social media in crafting a case.  

Your criminal defense lawyer will warn you that anything you post on social media can and will be used against you in your criminal case, and you should proceed with caution.   
 

Social Media and Digital Evidence 

With so much information now available online, the common question is whether it can be used in your criminal case.  

The answer is yes. Like written and photographic evidence, lawyers for the other side can seek social media posts to support a defendant or completely discredit his narrative.  

Social media evidence can be voluminous and may include the following: 

  • Texts and emails. 
     
  • Posts online to a social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram. 
     
  • Data from GPS devices, aka Global Position System, shows your location at any time. GPS information may be included on your smartphone, a fitness tracker, or a tagged photo. 
     
  • Photos on a cell phone or tablet. 
     
  • Video from a home automation system. 
     
  • Information held in cloud storage. 
     
  • Saved files, including financial records, browsing history, and personal correspondence. 
     
  • Street and store cameras that captured an event. 
     
  • An eyewitness who records an alleged crime as it unfolds. 
     

You can be confident that the other side will delve into all of your social media when investigating a criminal case and the defendant’s character.  

Individuals who post often can inadvertently show where they were in any timeline. They may reveal their friends who can serve as a witness to a criminal act. This can be as valuable as physical evidence proving culpability, with one exception. 

Social media posts can be modified, so authenticating a post will be necessary for prosecutors to establish its reliability. It must be shown that the chain of custody can be demonstrated and has not allowed evidence to be altered.    

On the other hand, if authenticated, a social media post can prove the criminal defendant was nowhere near the vicinity of the crime; in other words, if authenticated, it can provide an alibi. 

In the courtroom, digital evidence presented to the jury and judge can represent critical evidence not otherwise attainable. If necessary, an expert might need to be brought in to explain its origins, its authenticity, and what information the evidence provides. 

Although it is a recent evolution in legal evidence allowed in a court proceeding, digital evidence can be a powerful tool in proving one’s case.  
 

Your Alabama Criminal Defense Attorney 

Attorney Jason Darley understands that potential digital evidence must be obtained within legal boundaries and after seeking a warrant.  

Individuals enjoy constitutional protection from unreasonable search and seizure, and law enforcement and the courts must respect that right. If they did not, the court may exclude the evidence.  

Mr. Darley understands the complexities digital evidence introduces in his defense of those accused of a crime. He can ask that specific evidence be excluded if there is any question about its legal collection, preservation, authenticity, or storage.  

If you are facing criminal charges, Jason Darley offers a complimentary consultation to guide you through the legal process and give you a realistic picture of the impact digital evidence may potentially present in your case.  

Digital evidence in criminal defense strategies is ever evolving and should not be left to chance. Working with a knowledgeable attorney who keeps up with the latest in this area of law is essential. 

If you believe you have a digital trail that could be used against you in your criminal case, criminal defense attorney Jason Darley is an expert at strategizing the best criminal defense moving forward. Call his Mobile office at (251) 441-7772 to begin this important conversation.  

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