Since the explosion of Internet chat rooms in the late 1990s, law enforcement officials have used various forms of social media to catch criminals and acquire evidence of criminal activity. Now that over 80% of the population has social media profiles, the police have sought to evolve with the times by using their own social media accounts to prosecute crimes. What this means is that your own social media activity may be used against you if you are ever charged with a crime. Knowing these three ways the police use social media will show you how your own Internet usage history has the potential to cost you your freedom.
Even though over 95% of all law enforcement agencies use social media, people continue to post information about their location online. Multiple platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Yelp allow users to share their physical location with their friends or followers. Not only do these check-ins make it easier for law enforcement officials to find people suspected of committing crimes, it also allows prosecutors to prove that a potential suspect was in a specific area where criminal activity occurred, tying them to a crime.
On several occasions the police have used social media to find a suspect who was wanted for arrest but somehow managed to evade the police. Some people cannot resist the urge to brag about outsmarting the police or avoiding being picked up for a warrant, ultimately leading law enforcement officers directly to their doorsteps. In Florida, a battery suspect who fled the scene was discovered to have multiple outstanding warrants. The suspect used his “wanted” picture as his Facebook profile picture allowing police officers to find his social media profile, ultimately arresting him at the home of one of his relatives.
The police are also using social media to gather evidence of crimes being committed, making it easier to prosecute a suspect. Social media users who have livestreamed themselves driving while drinking, crashing into objects in their motor vehicles then fleeing the scene, and using illegal substances have all had their posts used against them. Law enforcement officers are using social media to solve crimes and obtain valuable evidence that prosecutors can later use to obtain guilty verdicts or impose harsh sentences. While Internet privacy laws are still evolving, right now more than one person have found themselves in police custody based solely on their own social media posts.
If Your Social Media Posts are Being Used Against You, Get Help
If you or someone close to you is having your social media or Internet history used against you by law enforcement officials, it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. A qualified attorney can work on your behalf to have your charges reduced or dismissed entirely. The legal team at Brassel Alexander, LLC has years of experience handling criminal matters throughout Maryland. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation so that we can discuss your situation with you and begin working on your case.