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Why Your Social Media Accounts Are Being Monitored By Law Enforcement And Lawyers

Okabe & Haushalter May 25, 2018 Criminal Defense

Social media is arguably the most efficient data-driven predictive policing tool utilized by the police, law enforcement agencies and criminal defense lawyers in California and all across the United States.

Although many of us tend to think that social media is an innocent tech fad, the government and law enforcement use it to predict and prevent crime as well as prove suspects’ involvement in a crime. While the ethical aspect of this practice remains unexplored, the fact that law enforcement monitors social media accounts can no longer be denied.

“Many people in California and all across the U.S. think that law enforcement snooping around their social media conversations would be a violation of their privacy, but they tend to forget that anything they post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms is public, available to everyone, and up for grab,” explains our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at the Okabe & Haushalter law firm.

Criminal defense and social media: What is the link?

While Americans continue to debate whether or not it is ethically appropriate to “listen” to these public social media conversations and use billions of publically available messages, statuses, posts, photos, and videos to predict and prevent crime, the fact that social media has become an integral part of criminal defense cases cannot be ignored.

In recent years, criminal cases in which the suspect was convicted of a crime – felony or misdemeanor – after their opponent resorted to social media to find evidence and prove the suspect’s guilt have increased significantly.

How social media can ruin the criminal defense

Our best criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles and all across California have reviewed just a couple of scenarios in which social media can serve as a vital tool to prove someone’s guilt in a crime.

  • A teenage driver alleges that he was not guilty of drunk driving in a suspected hit-and-run accident in California. The plaintiff’s lawyer discovers a tweet posted by the driver hours before the arrest that reads, “About to drive drunk, hope the cops do not pull me over – Mom go pick me up LOL!”
  • “If I had a gun, I’d shot my teacher, he is annoying,” reads a Facebook post of a student suspected of a police shooting. This social media post alone can be used against the student as compelling evidence of his guilt.
  • Photos of nude and semi-nude underage children retweeted by an individual facing child pornography charges can make a huge difference in his case.
  • A man accused of sexually assaulting his co-worker may find it challenging to prove his innocence when the victim’s Los Angeles criminal defense attorney finds a series of photos of the victim, who had no prior romantic or sexual relationship with the suspect, posted on the suspect’s social media accounts. These photos read, “I love you,” “My love,” “I want you to be mine,” and others.
  • A white individual arrested for a hate crime pleads not guilty to committing a hate crime against a black person, but the victim’s attorney uncovers social media posts and photos that indicate the suspect’s hatred toward black people and other minorities on his Instagram account.

As you can see, examples of when social media can be used to prove someone’s involvement in a crime can be limitless. If you are currently facing criminal charges, (1) consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California, and (2) consider disabling your social media accounts as some of your posts may be misinterpreted by the plaintiff’s lawyer to paint you in a bad light or prove your guilt. Think twice before posting something on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Contact the Okabe & Haushalter law firm to get a free consultation about your particular case. Call our offices at 310-430-7799 or complete this contact form.