When a Social Media Post Convicts You

drinking while driving, DUI, St. Charles criminal defense attorney, social media and criminal defense, criminal chargesSocial media has taken over a large part of our lives. Posting everything—where we went on vacation, what we ate for dinner, and how we are feeling at any given moment—has become a part of daily life. However, posting on social media can also land you in hot water with the law if you are not careful. 

One example of social media carelessness is a man who was arrested for a DUI after posting a video of himself drinking while driving. Another example is an assault that was streamed live on Facebook.

This trend towards further integration with social media means that authorities will rely more heavily on what people post to help build their cases.

Are My Social Media Post Admissible Online?

At one point, it was believed that to enter electronically stored information, like a social media post, the party offering the post as evidence would face a mountain of legal hurdles. This, however, is no longer the case.

For a social media post to be entered into evidence, all a lawyer has to do is prove the following:

  • The post is authentic;
  • The post is relevant;
  • The post offers more probative value than prejudicial effect;
  • It defeats a hearsay objection; and
  • It conforms to the author’s writing.

It is wise to be very conscious of what you post on social media. Posts from months ago—ones that you have forgotten about—can come back and cause you significant legal woes.

Authenticating a Social Media Post

One of the steps that an attorney must take in order to enter a social media post as evidence is to have the evidence authenticated. When authenticating evidence, the court will generally ask these questions:

  • How was the evidence collected?
  • Where was the evidence collected?
  • What types of evidence was collected?
  • Who handled the evidence before it was collected?
  • When was the evidence collected?

Your lawyer will either provide satisfactory answers to those questions or poke holes in the answers to those questions to challenge authenticity.

Another key component the court will examine is whether any pictures have been altered. This is much more common in the realm of divorce law; however, there have been instances where a photo has been altered with an attempt to enter that altered photograph into evidence. It will be the job of a knowledgeable attorney to ensure that any social media posts or electronically stored information is original and has not been doctored.

Worried About Your Social Media Post?

If you or a loved has been charged with a crime and are worried about your social media posts, contact a skilled St. Charles criminal defense attorney to address your concerns and map out a strategy for your defense. Contact our Naperville office at 630-232-1780 to schedule your consultation today.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/tech/social-media/online-oversharing-arrests/

https://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/litigationnews/trial_skills/030413-tips-admissibility-ESI.html

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