It is not a secret that social media use has grown exponentially in just a decade. Many people use it to stay in touch with family and friends, to share photos, to pots videos, and to keep up to date on current events. Many people don’t know that social media can also be used in a different way: By police who want to investigate criminal activity.
It is not uncommon for a person who has committed a crime to share information about that crime on their social media accounts. Law enforcement, in certain cases, can use this information as support to file criminal charges. Read on to learn more. If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for a free legal consultation.
Police use social media in a number of ways
California law enforcement use social media in a number of ways. They can do this by looking for photos or videos you have posted that could be used as evidence or finding activity that shows your location at the time of the crime you are accused of. Remember that they may not just look at your account – they can also search for evidence on the walls and accounts of your friends and the groups you belong to.
Setting privacy controls to “friends only” may not help
Law enforcement can legally look at any public information you have on the internet. Does this mean that you can simply mark it “friends only” to prevent them from accessing it? Not necessarily. If anyone who can see your locked posts offers a tip or provides information to the police, then this can be used as evidence. It is also not illegal for a police officer to “friend” you to get access to private posts.
Is it constitutional to search social media accounts?
Some people understandably have concerns about the police searching through a person’s private life in this way. They say that it is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. Note that the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.
First of all, it is not often the case that a police officer gets a warrant to search an individual’s private social media accounts by having probable cause that a crime has been committed. Actions that do not require a warrant include friending the suspect or getting information from a friend of the suspect. Any post that is public can be used without a warrant.
Stay off social media and call a criminal defense attorney
If you have been arrested for a crime, then the best thing you can do is to stay off of social media entirely. Do not post anything, no matter how innocent it seems. Instead, contact a criminal defense attorney and get a free legal consultation. No matter how minor or serious your charges are, you can count on Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell to offer an aggressive defense. Call our offices at 909-920-0908 now for a consultation.