Your social media posts can and will be used against you in a court of law. More and more, social media posts play a role in divorce litigation, criminal cases, and even personal injury claims. Lawyers and law enforcement agencies often obtain important information by checking the photos and postings on a person’s social media account. It generally doesn’t even matter what your privacy settings are on your account or who you share your information with. Even posts or photos you share with a select group of friends can be used against you.
Social media accounts are even being used against victims of car accidents to lower the value of their claims. We were recently involved in a case where the defense counsel sought to use pictures posted to Facebook of the victims at a social club to insinuate that the victims were alcoholics and likely intoxicated at the time of the accident. This attempt to destroy the victims’ credibility failed, but there is still a lesson to be learned: assume anything you put on social media can be used against you in any number of different court proceedings.
How you conduct yourself on social media can hurt or help your case.
Social media is being used as evidence in divorce cases, child support hearings, spousal support hearings, and child custody hearings every single day. Social media posts have even been used to establish a person’s spending habits, irresponsible behavior, and personal relationships.
In criminal cases law enforcement agencies will search your social media accounts to learn whether you have discussed the alleged crime and to find other relevant information that can be used against you in court. You may think that an officer would need a warrant to conduct these types of searches. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Law enforcement agencies routinely create fake online identities or use cooperating witnesses to gain access to your account in order to bypass the need for a search warrant, subpoena, or court order.
Our advice: don’t post anything questionable on any social media sites regardless of whom you share it with. How you conduct yourself on social media can often hurt you in a legal proceeding. Whether you find yourself in a family court proceeding, criminal investigation or civil suit, it is important to realize that information and photographs you have posted on your social media will be used against you.
Authored by John Hipskind & Brady McAninch