Can Social Media Be Used Against You in a Criminal Case in Utah?

In today’s interconnected world, social media has become a platform for self-expression, communication, and information sharing. However, this digital landscape also poses significant implications for criminal cases in Utah.

The use of social media evidence can have a significant impact on criminal investigations and the outcome of a case. Even seemingly innocuous posts, comments, or messages can be used as evidence against you in court. To defend against this type of evidence, you need a knowledgeable attorney who can provide advice tailored to your specific situation. Our team can help you understand the implications of your social media use and guide you on how to avoid potentially harmful posts. We can also develop strategies to try to keep this evidence from coming into your case.

For a free case review, contact our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC by calling (801) 758-2287.

How Can Social Media Be Used Against You in a Utah Criminal Case?

The impact of social media on criminal cases in Utah has become a central issue for many. From establishing a motive to revealing character traits, your digital footprint can significantly influence the outcome of your case. That is why it is vital to work with our Layton, UT criminal defense attorneys who understand the ways the prosecution uses social media evidence and can effectively counter its potentially negative impacts. The following scenarios are how social media has historically been used against defendants in Utah criminal cases:

Establishing Motive and Intent

In today’s digital age, social media platforms have become a vital source of information for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Your social media activity, such as posts, messages, or comments, can be used as evidence to establish motive or intent in a criminal case.

For instance, if you have expressed anger, hostility, or resentment towards a victim on your social media profile, it could be used as evidence of motive. Similarly, any statements suggesting premeditation or forethought, such as planning or discussing a crime on social media, could be used to demonstrate intent.

In most instances, social media evidence is admissible in court, and prosecutors might use it to build a case against you. Therefore, you should be mindful of what you post on your social media accounts and how it might be perceived by others.

Proving Actions and Behavior

Prosecutors have also been known to use social media posts to establish a detailed timeline of your activities and behavior. For instance, check-ins, location tags, and timestamps on posts can help prosecutors piece together your movements and actions at specific times.

This information could potentially corroborate other evidence or contradict your alibi, making it important to be cautious about what you share on social media.

Providing Character Evidence

Your online presence can have a serious impact on how your character is perceived by a jury in a criminal case. In general, Utah courts tend to restrict the use of character evidence during trial proceedings, but there are certain exceptions where such information can be deemed relevant.

If your social media activity displays a consistent pattern of behavior or attitude that aligns with the crime you are being charged with, it could potentially be used as evidence against you. Even posts you think are private might end up in prosecutors’ hands, so be careful what you end up putting out there. Remember, once information is on the internet, it is virtually impossible to destroy.

Establishing Negative Associations

It is also important to be mindful of who you interact with on social media, as it can have significant consequences in your case. Any connections or communications with known criminals or suspicious individuals could potentially be used as evidence of association or conspiracy of a crime.

This means that photos, tagged posts, or messages showing you with these individuals could greatly strengthen the prosecution’s case against you. Thus, be sure to carefully consider who you allow into your social media circles and avoid any questionable associations that could potentially put you at risk.

Of course, some of your interactions with others might be completely innocent, regardless of the other person’s criminal history. However, social media evidence often boils down to what might be perceived by the evidence and what the prosecution can argue from it. So, if it cannot be avoided, at least set your friends group to private to restrict others from viewing their profiles.

Revealing Contradictions

You can be sure that prosecutors will scour your online presence to uncover any inconsistencies in your statements or testimony. This means that any posts, messages, or comments you have made on social media platforms can be used against you in court.

If the content of your online activity contradicts what you have told the police or testified in court, it can significantly harm your credibility and weaken your defense.

Demonstrating Consciousness of Guilt

Keep in mind that if you have been charged with a crime, deleting your social media posts or accounts might not be a wise decision. This is because prosecutors could potentially argue that your actions demonstrate a “consciousness of guilt.”

In other words, they could suggest that by attempting to hide or destroy evidence, you were implicitly admitting your guilt. This could potentially harm your case in court and make it more difficult for you to prove your innocence. Therefore, we generally recommend that individuals facing criminal charges in Utah avoid deleting any potentially relevant social media content and instead consult with our team on the best course of action.

How Can a Defense Attorney Fight Social Media from Being Admitted as Evidence in a Utah Criminal Case?

One of the primary ways to contest the use of social media evidence in a Utah criminal case is to challenge its authenticity. The law requires the prosecution to provide sufficient evidence that the content is what they claim it to be. This could involve proving that the account belongs to you and that you authored the specific posts in question. If your attorney can create reasonable doubt about the authenticity of the evidence, the court might exclude it from your case.

Hearsay or out-of-court statements offered for the truth of the matter asserted are generally inadmissible in a criminal case. Social media content typically falls into this category. Your attorney could argue that posts or messages from your social media accounts are hearsay and should be excluded as such.

The court can also exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. Social media evidence, particularly posts that might cast you in a negative light, can be unduly prejudicial. Your attorney could argue that such evidence could unduly influence the jury’s perception of you and should, therefore, be excluded.

Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help Defend Your Case

Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation with our Ogden, UT criminal defense lawyers.