Sunday, July 31, 2011

Your Facebook Page Could Hurt Your Case

There is a modern wisdom, "Be careful what you post, it could come back to haunt you in the courtroom." In this day where everybody has access to social media through Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and even blogs, it is astonishing the things that people are willing to put on line. Some people are willing to make statements they would never dream of stating in person or even in a letter. Still even more will communicate the most intimate secrets in a public "wall" page or chat room. Online users are willing to admit everything from extramarital affairs to criminal conduct. Spouses will bicker with one another on Facebook and carry on a torrid affairs all the while their "friended" children can read. Every day these same people are surprised when they are confronted with the details of their behavior in the form of printouts of their social media activity.

Social media is not private. No matter how much you restrict the access of the material you post, it will still come back to haunt you in court. First, social media outlets routinely cooperate with law enforcement agencies and will provide information to investigators and prosecutors. Second, social media posts are subject to subpoena and would be tuned over to an attorney who is not working on your side. Third, no matter how private your settings, there is inevitably somebody on your list of friends who is going to share your innermost secrets with somebody you would rather not find out.

However, for all the same reasons, social media is a goldmine for investigating just about any kind of case. Many people do not bother to secure their posts and are willing to gloat, brag and boast about anything and create some valuable sources of evidence. It is important to secure this evidence as soon as it becomes available. In many cases valuable evidence is posted and can be lost just as quickly as soon as the author realizes the vulnerability of their private thoughts. Make sure to save and print these valuable nuggets of evidence as soon as they come into your possession.

Before your post, think twice. Think about how you will feel answering questions about the post in court. What you put up on Facebook or any other social media outlet can and will effect your case and usually negatively. The best course of action is to not post.

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