Family law attorneys have been telling their clients to stay away from social media during the divorce proceedings for many years now, since nothing is ever really as private as you believe. They warn their clients that their posts and pictures could come back to haunt them in courtroom battles for property or custody of their children.
It would only make sense, then, that criminal defense attorneys would provide the same cautions to their clients, especially since individuals under investigation by law enforcement or facing criminal charges often have much more at stake, including their freedom. Let's delve into how social media could impact your case.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The Constitution guarantees you the right to remain free from unreasonable and unlawful searches and seizures. If a large part of the litmus test for this right is whether you have an expectation of privacy under the circumstances, how does the Fourth Amendment apply to your social media account?
Well, it wouldn't be a leap of faith to believe that Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers of the nation did not consider computers, the internet and social media when they drafted the Bill of Rights. Even the U.S. Supreme Court did not include any shared information in the definition of privacy back in the 1960s and the 1970s when numerous cases tested the court's interpretation of the Fourth Amendment.
This means that privacy, when it comes to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, may not be an entitlement to you. For this reason, avoiding social media during a criminal investigation and criminal proceedings seems like a good idea. The problem is that the law simply cannot keep up with the technological advances we all take advantage of every day.
Protecting your rights
Investigators may be able to obtain information from your social media accounts through legal means. If you fail to consider this possibility, you could inadvertently make your case more of a challenge than it needs to be. Perhaps you now understand why criminal defense attorneys are in agreement with family law attorneys when it comes to using social media when there is any sort of legal process in your present or your future.
An attorney will work diligently to protect your rights, but it is up to you not to do anything to make that job even harder. From the moment you become aware of an investigation against you or police arrest you, ignore those notifications from your social media accounts and take a technological vacation -- at least until your situation experiences a full adjudication.