If you have either been formally charged with criminal wrongdoing or are under investigation because law enforcement suspects that you may have committed illegal activities, it is imperative to behave as if your every move is not only being watched but scrutinized. This is not to say that you should cultivate a sense of paranoia about your situation. That kind of emotional stress response can lead to irrational behavior that could undermine the strength of your case. However, being proactive in how you engage the world can also make or break your case as well.
What does it mean to act as if your actions are being watched and scrutinized? This approach primarily involves acting as if those who are trying to prosecute you for alleged wrongdoing can use any of your actions and inactions against you, and it also means that they could misinterpret or twist innocent behavior to serve the interests of their case.
This rule of thumb is intimidating and can even be a little frightening. But, if you embrace this approach with a certain mindset, it can actually be very empowering. By understanding that you have the power to act in ways that could strengthen – instead of weaken – your defense, you may find that you’re more confident about putting your best foot forward until your case is resolved. One of the easiest ways to start embracing this approach involves how you interact with electronic means of communication, including social media.
Why Is Social Media Activity So Consequential Right Now?
If you have already been formally arrested, you will have been read your Miranda rights. When a law enforcement officer took you into custody, they told you that anything you said could and would be used against you. Once you started to answer questions, the protections afforded by that warning effectively expired. However, this does not mean that you are now powerless to protect your rights, even if you’re not being asked a question directly.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution helps to safeguard against being compelled to offer self-incriminating evidence or testimony. Yet, all too often, those who are under investigation or who have already been arrested offer self-incriminating evidence voluntarily simply by posting certain things online.
Even when an individual’s privacy settings have been maximized, law enforcement officials and prosecutors are generally empowered to find – and seize – any evidence that social media activity provides. Social media platforms are public. Therefore, investigators and prosecutors do not even have to issue a subpoena for their contents, as they generally do when search histories, texts, and emails interest them.
As a result, it is now standard practice for law enforcement officers and investigators to scroll through a defendant’s (or subject of investigation’s) social media accounts to see if they can utilize any activity on those accounts to their advantage.
How Should You Respond To This Risk?
In an ideal world, you’d stay off social media entirely until your case is resolved. You’d also take extreme care when searching for anything online or writing down anything in a text or email that could – in any way, shape, or form – be misinterpreted or manipulated against your interests. However, in this day and age, it isn’t always reasonable to ask someone to stay off of social media entirely. Not only may you feel that you need one or more platforms to stay connected to your support system during a truly stressful time, but you may also be required to remain on social media for work or to interact with your kids who may not live nearby or other distant friends or relatives.
If you cannot stay off of social media until your case is fully resolved, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind any time you log on. First, you’ll want to remember that even seemingly innocent posts and responses to others’ content can potentially be misinterpreted or twisted to serve the aims of a prosecutor’s case.
As a result, you won’t want to give a prosecutor or investigators any potentially incriminating material to use. If you need to stay on social media right now, stick to content that has nothing to do with your case or the subject matter of your case. Post cat videos to cheer up your nana and bolster your employer’s content by reposting it… stuff like that.
Second, keep in mind that you have the power to present a good impression without seeming phony or false. If, for example, you’ve been accused of domestic assault, do not vent about your situation or “like” content that is misogynistic or antagonistic. Even if a prosecutor doesn’t go so far as to utilize this kind of activity against you, it may feed into their narrative that you’re an aggressive person.
Contact A Skilled Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney To Learn More
At George Law, we don’t just concern ourselves with the strictly legal aspects of an individual’s case. We concern ourselves with whether our clients are ready for the challenges ahead, how they’re handling the pressures of the situation, and whether they’re acting in ways that could potentially bolster or undermine the defense strategy that we’re crafting on their behalf. We understand that a criminal defense case involves more than courtroom drama. And we do our utmost to make sure that our clients have the support they need to navigate the criminal defense process from start to finish.
If you have not already reached out to our team for personalized guidance, you can get started by using the chat feature on our website at any time, day or night. Alternatively, you can schedule a free case evaluation by calling (248) 247-7459 or by submitting a contact form on our firm’s contact page. Whichever way you choose to get in touch, know that we’re looking forward to hearing from you and aggressively advocating for your interests until your case is resolved.