How social media can be used as evidence against you

As a college student, you’ve likely been warned to monitor what you post on social media. Future employers will check your accounts as an additional background check, and if they find photos of you surrounded by alcohol bottles or posts bashing past employers, it could reflect poorly on you.

What you might not know is that social media can be used against you in court if you ever get in legal trouble.

The role of social media in a criminal case

It may seem odd that social media could serve as evidence against you in court, but it’s true and it’s legal too. Courts are not hesitant to admit social media content as evidence.

Here are some examples of social media that could harm you in court:

  • Pictures of you drinking: Posting a photo of you drinking a beer at a party may seem harmless, but it could work against you in court. Especially if you tried to contest a charge, the post could kill your case.
  • A video a friend tagged you in: Not only is your own social media admissible in court, but videos and pictures that your friend tags you in can be evidence as well. For instance, if your friend tags you in a video of you drunkenly throwing a rock through a store window, it’s fair game in court.
  • Posting about vandalism: Much like posting about driving while drunk, posting about a property you vandalized can serve as evidence in court. Whether it be a photo you took or a written post, both could hurt your case.
  • Messages exchanged with a friend: Even privately exchanged messages on social media are on the table to use as evidence in court. Discussing with a friend the wild night before can have damaging implications in a case.

If you do find yourself in front of a judge, you may feel inclined to delete an incriminating post, but this could negatively affect you. Deleting a post during your case has legal consequences just as destroying other types of evidence does, and it may be a red flag for the judge in your case. Additionally, investigators have ways of exhuming deleted posts in criminal cases.

Be mindful about what you post

College is a place to exercise your independence, but it’s good practice to be mindful about social media. Your posts may entertain your friends, but they could also work against you in the future. Be sure to think twice before you post.

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