Social media is impacting criminal proceedings in new ways. When you are arrested and charged with a criminal offence in Brampton or the GTA, the police will inform you of your right to remain silent.
This right extends beyond the right to refuse to answer any questions or inquiries by the police, investigators, and Crown prosecutor. This warning applies to anything you say throughout your criminal proceeding, including court hearings and trial.
It also extends to anything you post or say on social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Crown prosecutors are becoming more in touch with social media and scouring sites looking for profiles and evidence they can use against you to secure a conviction.
You would not want to share photos of you with stolen merchandise bragging how you got away with it. Nor would you want to post a video of you drinking or using drugs while you are driving. These are two examples of posts that could be used as evidence against you in criminal proceedings.
Other things to keep in mind regarding social media and criminal offences include:
#1: Social media is not private information.
One of the biggest misconceptions people have is their social media pages are considered their own private information. Courts have ruled in the past that information on the internet and social media are regarded as public domain, which means they can be used as evidence. Even if you have enabled security features on social media sites, the Crown can still obtain access to those sites.
#2: Your posts can be used to support the Crown’s case.
Throughout your criminal proceeding, investigators and the Crown will continue to gather evidence to support their case from social media sites. For instance, they may use social media to discredit a witness or find posts that show there was intent to commit the offence.
#3: Social media can be used against you.
Just like disregarding your right to remain silent, your social media posts can be used against you to paint a picture of your character. Often, the Crown will attempt to use your posts or posts you have been tagged in to make you appear to be irresponsible or even have a disregard for the law.
#4: Deleting social media accounts will make you look guilty.
Another mistake some people make is deleting their social media accounts. In today’s digital age, most people have some degree of online presence and social media use. It is better to speak to your Brampton criminal defence lawyer to determine if you should delete specific posts, but never your account.
#5: Avoid using social media until your proceeding is resolved.
It can be tempting to post details about your court hearings or trial on social media. However, doing so could further hurt your defence strategy. It is best to stay off social media until your legal matter is fully resolved.