What to Do - and Not to Do - on Social Media After an Arrest
Sept. 10, 2021
Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, with many users regularly sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly without giving much thought to where that information could end up.
It’s always a good idea to carefully consider anything you share online. Like a tattoo, social media posts are effectively permanent; attempts to erase either are not 100% effective, and there are often residual messes left behind. Before posting anything, ask yourself, “will it age well?” and “will I regret this later?”.
If you’ve just been arrested in Texas, though, it’s time to pay very close attention to your entire social media strategy because — just like statements to a police officer made after you’re given a Miranda warning — anything you say on social media can be used against you in a court of law. In fact, in a 2016 survey, the Urban Institute and the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that 70 percent of the 539 law enforcement agencies polled use social media to gather intelligence for investigations.
Here are some “do's” regarding social media use after an arrest:
Do be careful about what you’re posting, whether within your own post or on someone else’s, especially if the topic veers anywhere near the crime of which you have been accused. Your best bet is to not share anything whatsoever about your arrest or the allegations against you.
Do think of your social media posts as being shouted out to the public even if you believe your privacy settings are locked down. You never truly know where your post can end up once it’s out there, so if you don’t want it to come up in your criminal case, don’t post it even if you think only your “friends” will see it.
Now for some “don’ts”:
Don’t delete accounts or specific older posts before consulting a criminal defense attorney. While it may be tempting to wipe the slate clean so that nothing on social can be used against you, you may inadvertently remove an alibi that could have shown your innocence or make yourself look guilty just by deleting things.
Don’t post even to declare your innocence. It’s too easy to get drawn into discussions where you disparage the arresting officer, prosecutor, or other law enforcement officials involved in your case. None of these statements will help you, so don’t open the door for that to happen.
If you’ve been arrested, get an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the potential pitfalls of social media as well as build your best defense. Contact the Law Office of Kenneth W. Mullen PC for a free consultation.