Social Media Evidence can play a very important role in your trial strategy.
Technology (unfortunately) is the fiber that hs holding society together, particularly during the last yar or so during theCOVID-19 pandemic. Individuals are connecting to friends, business associates and clients is conducted through Zoom, Webex, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and other similar technologies. Would it surprise you that the government is dedicating significant resources to monitor activities on social media? Protest activities and other illegal activities are monitored and used to confront violators, protestors, making arrests, deployment of counter protect resources are but a few of those government responses. Government monitors is so prolific and prevalent that certain congressional representatives even posted lists of what to take to a protest or demonstration so as to avoid being monitored.
Consider that virtually one in every three people in the world has some social media account. Social media has transformed the world. Last year (2020) alone, almost 95 percent of police departments monitor social media. Sixty percent of these departments use their monitoring to obtain warrants, orders or administrative subpoenas. Social media evidence can also be critical to your defense case, therefore you need to know what is available to the government.
Obviously, defense attorneys need to be mindful of the proliferation of technology in the development of pre-trial strategy. They need to consider that people post information that exposes their criminal activities. Examples include: a man posting photos of himself while surrounded by 70 pounds of marijuana, assaulting another person and posting the video, and another posting pictures of himself holding a handgun while on probation. Defense counsels also see private posts that law enforcement may have obtained from witnesses or informants who know about past or future criminal activity or obtained through “rogue monitoring” posted on fake profiles set up by law enforcement. Some services have prohibited these kinds of activities but technology changes day by day and law enforcement is creative to say the least. While the guidance for subpoenas and warrants through social media is in the Stored Communications Act, Congress is trying to keep up with the needs of society. Defense attorneys must be cognizant of the law and the efforts to intrude into the lives of their clients, particularly as the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment apply.