Do Not Use Social Media During a Criminal Investigation

Millions, if not billions, of people use social media every day, whether it’s to share photos and videos, write a status update about their lives, stay connected with loved ones, or keep updated with current events and the latest news. Although platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have made us more connected than ever, the truth is that local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies often use social media to investigate suspected criminals. 

In Oklahoma, for example, the Tulsa Police Department made a Facebook post a couple of weeks ago about its “WEEKLY MOST WANTED” person on the department’s page, which requested any information related to the whereabouts of a woman who is charged with accessory to murder in a recent homicide. Less than three hours later, the suspect who was featured on the post commented: “What’s where’s the reward money at?” 

Two days later, the fugitive warrants unit arrested the woman in North Tulsa. Her bond is set at $500,000. 

In recent years, police departments throughout the United States have used social media to do the following: 

  • Discover criminal activity and obtain probable cause for a search warrant 

  • Identify criminals and locate their whereabouts 

  • Collect evidence of criminal activity 

  • Identify potential witnesses 

  • Solicit tips from the community about crimes or missing people 

According to a 2014 study by LexisNexis, eight out of ten law enforcement officials actively used social media during criminal investigations. Additionally, police departments may also request social media data by issuing subpoenas and warrants to collect an immense amount of data (e.g., contact information, status updates, private messages, photos, tags, friends, group affiliations, etc.) directly from social media companies. 

If you are currently being investigated by the police, the following are several steps you should take on social media to protect your rights and freedom: 

  • Do not log into your accounts and resist the urge to use social media until your criminal case has concluded. 

  • Do not delete your accounts because such action could be viewed as the destruction of evidence and can result in additional criminal charges. 

  • Tell your friends and loved ones to stop posting, tagging, or otherwise communicating with you through all social media platforms. 

  • Hire a criminal defense attorney to examine your case, determine your available legal options, and help you obtain the most favorable outcome in your case. 

If you have been arrested in Gwinnett County, contact Daniels & Taylor, P.C. today at (770) 285-1673 to schedule a free office consultation. Serving Lawrenceville and beyond since 1994! 

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