Facebook, Twitter, and social media in recent years brought about more confessions than church ever has. Confession may be good for the soul, but it is usually bad for a Defendant when it comes to criminal investigations. The first resource police departments tend to use when a suspect emerges is social media. Lawyers, Prosecutors and Defense lawyers, routinely check social media when it comes to witnesses at preliminary examination or trial. Why someone would confess to the world their misdeeds and crimes is a complete mystery that can only be attributed to ignorance, not thinking, bravado, arrogance, or the desire to self destruct. When it comes to social media, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy – it is posted for the world to see. A facebook confession is not subject to Miranda Warnings or suppression by a Judge. When something is placed into plain view, no one is expected to turn a blind eye towards it. More disturbing are the number of offenses that are live streamed on Facebook and other social media. The fact that someone would broadcast a crime for the whole world to see means that the person has put no thought into the consequences of their actions.
Social media can also be used to the advantage of a Defendant. As previously stated, lawyers are able to obtain all sorts of information through social media that may be important to building a defense. A complaining witness may put information online that calls into question their credibility, establishes bias, provides a motivation to lie, and/or impeaches their version of events.
Deleted or removed from a computer or cell phone does not necessarily mean that the information is not retrievable. Facebook backs up its data, including deleted items, for 90 days. A criminal forensic investigation of a computer hard drive or telephone sim card usually reveals an individual’s complete history with very little difficulty. As long as the hard drive or sim card is not damaged, deleted contents can be restored and used in a case. Again, deleted does not mean destroyed. The best way to protect yourself is to never advertise your alleged sins.
When it comes to criminal activity, an individual should only discuss the matter with their lawyer in a private location. If you are charged with a crime, the best option you have is to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Hiring the right lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able – just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right