Everyone knows about their right to remain silent—or at least, they should—which protects suspects from being forced to say things which may aid in the case against them.
However, few civilians realize that self-incrimination doesn’t always come in the form of the spoken word. Because, while the right to free speech is a sacred one in the United States, that’s not the same as the right to avoid consequences for all but admitting to a crime on Facebook or Twitter.
Self-Incrimination Through Social Media
Privacy is a huge concern for folks who engage with social media sites, but often, users don’t even need to be hacked to get in trouble—they post evidence that’s at least circumstantial (and in some cases, fairly damaging) all on their own. In the last year, several high-profile cases have been brought to trial thanks to popularity on Facebook. Two of the most viral include:
• A Florida man who was convicted of second degree murder after he posted grisly photos of his deceased wife on Facebook.
• A North Carolina woman who taped her dogs mouth shut and, after the post spread across Facebook, was arrested and convicted of animal abuse.
• Actress Vanessa Hudgens is currently under investigation after posting a selfie in Sedona, Arizona. The image, which has since been deleted, allegedly showed her initials, as well as those of her boyfriend, carved into a rock—which might be part of National Forest and thus, Federal property.
The list goes on and on. In the age of public sharing (and public shaming), defacement of property, animal abuse, and even DUIs have all become spectator sports—and often, even if a person deletes a post, once it’s gone viral, it can be hard to get back.
And while a good defense attorney can help fight claims based on just a photo or mention on social media, the fact is that once the evidence is out there, it’s hard to get back.
Be Careful What You Post!
The best thing for social media users to do is be careful about what they post—and think critically about whether or not they may be breaking any laws in their photos and updates. When in doubt, just don’t post the images; in these instances, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Even if you may have incriminated yourself, a knowledgeable, supportive attorney can help you navigate the complexities of a criminal charge and get your life back on track.
The expert criminal defense lawyers at the Witt Law Group defend the rights of individuals facing criminal charges in Kitsap County, including Bremerton, Port Orchard, Silverdale and beyond. We have offices in Poulsbo, Bremerton and Gig Harbor for your convenience.