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Social Media & the Negative Consequences on a Criminal Investigation

The problem with social media these days is that, across the globe, anyone and everyone who has access to the world wide web can post information to their social media profiles. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are some of the most prevalent forms of social media, with millions of users logging into their profiles to interact with their friends and post their own musings.

While this may not, at first, seem like a problem in criminal investigations, it is important to realize that not all social media posts are private. There are website archive sites and software that investigators can use to access old or even information that users believe is protected by privacy settings. Even if a post was deleted, this information can still be mined using these programs.

Social Media & Boston Bomber Case

Here is one example. Today, we just learned that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, an accomplice to his brother in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, was found guilty on all 30 charges made against him. He was sentenced to the death penalty. In that state, death penalty is not legal, but because he had been charged with federal crimes, convictions allow the death penalty.

In the aftermath of the bombing, several credible news outlets began publishing a multitude of stories—many of which were either speculation or outright false. Subsequently, these stories were shared or “liked” on Facebook. This unnecessarily brings panic to the wider community and, throws investigators far off the trail, who often use these sources to track down suspects.

How Social Media Can Affect a Case

Remember that investigators do everything they can to discover information about a suspect—this includes burrowing into one’s social media profiles.

They do this to uncover any of the following:

  • Find any type of evidence to help with the case
  • Any incriminating posts or photos indicting the suspect
  • Retrace the last steps of the suspect
  • Search for witnesses or a possible alibi
  • Network with anyone who can help them move their case forward

Our Minneapolis criminal defense attorneys highly recommend that if you are involved in a criminal case, whether or not you are being accused, that you lay low from using social media networks. You may be surprised at how quickly misconstrued a seemingly innocuous statement can be taken. Remember that prosecutors will stop at nothing to get their conviction—even resorting to twisting words to fit their needs. Your best bet for defense is to obtain legal defense to help you and keep you protected during the investigation process.

Do not hesitate to bring forth any concerns to us. Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. is on hand to schedule free case consultations at any time—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


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