Social Media Can Hurt You in a Domestic Violence Case
According to the Pew research Center, over 82 percent of Americans are currently using at least one form of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and other forms of social media have become an integral part of most people’s lives.
These social media channels provide wonderful benefits for people, allowing them to keep up with old friends, and giving grandparents a chance to interact daily with their grandchildren even if they live on the other side of the country.
Checking your social media feed is an amusing way to pass the time and having a Facebook page and using other types of social media is essential to the survival of millions of small businesses.
But social media use can be a problem if you are facing charges of domestic violence in San Diego. That’s why we recommend that our clients restrict their social media access and completely refrain from talking about any type of pending legal case until it is completely resolved.
What Is Domestic Violence?
The legal definition of domestic abuse in California is pretty broad. For instance, in addition to an offense committed against a spouse or domestic partner, the recipient of domestic abuse may also be a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, someone you have a child in common with, some you are currently living with or formerly lived with, or someone you are related to through blood or marriage.
Offenses that can be charged as domestic violence include:
- Causing or attempting to cause physical harm
- Sexual assault
- Striking or attacking a person
- Battery (using physical force)
- Disturbing someone’s peace
- Destroying someone’s personal property
- Threatening or harassing someone in person or by phone, email, or other methods
- Making someone fear that they or someone else in under threat of serious physical injury
How Social Media Can Harm Your Case
Nothing you say on the internet is private. But a lot of people think that they can say anything they want as long as they properly adjust their privacy settings. Unfortunately, everything you do on social media is easy to access by an attorney in a civil or criminal case.
California law allows discovery of information that is “reasonably calculated” to lead to discoverable evidence. And Facebook and other social media companies freely comply with legal requests for information that are made under federal and California law.
In most cases, it doesn’t even require a warrant for prosecutors to get everything you have ever written on Facebook and other social media, even if it has been deleted.
Here are some ways that information on your social media account can hurt you during a domestic violence case:
- Location. If you allow location tracking, that information may be shared with others and it can also be retrieved by prosecutors.
- Incriminating statements. A lot of people like to rant on Facebook when they’re having a bad day. But complaints and negative comments about your accuser can be awfully incriminating.
- Evidence of drug and alcohol use. Drugs and alcohol are frequently associated with domestic violence. This can be used in court to establish that you may not always be in complete control of your actions.
- Contacting or tagging your accuser may actually violate a restraining order, even if you are just liking a picture they posted.
- Watch out for fake accounts created by your accuser and others to collect incriminating evidence against you.
- Don’t communicate with your lawyer via social media and ignore anyone who contacts you on the internet saying they are an attorney.
How Social Media Can Help Your Domestic Violence Case
Although using social media is likely to have a negative impact on your case, there are a few ways it can benefit you. Your attorney can use social media to:
- Verify an alibi by confirming your location at the time of an alleged offense.
- Find people who are potential witnesses on your behalf
- Discover information that supports your case. Just like things you say on social media can be used against you, your accusers may also have posted comments that weaken or refute their claims against you.
Are You Facing Charges of Domestic Violence?
Contact jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys at (760) 630-2000 if you are facing charges for domestic violations or any other type of criminal offense.
Our founding attorney James N. Dicks is one of just 30 Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists in San Diego County. To learn more, schedule a FREE consultation today.
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