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Can Social Media Be Used as Evidence in a North Carolina Criminal Case?

The desire to share your life is appealing, and posting an update on your social media accounts may feel like second nature, especially if you think only your friends will see it. The risks of sharing personal information, even anecdotally, online are well-known, but they could have further impacts you never considered. If you’re facing criminal charges in North Carolina, anything related to your charges on social media could be used as evidence, and those posts could affect your case’s outcome. 

How Can Social Media Be Used as Evidence in North Carolina?

You might think that photos or information you share on social media can be seen only by the friends you share them with, especially if your accounts are private and not immediately viewable. 

Whether your account is private or public, law enforcement agencies have the resources to dig deep into your social media posts. They can use anything you post, share, say, or are even associated with on social media against you, even if you limit the intended audience or delete it later. 

They can use content from numerous social media platforms, including: 

  • Facebook
  • X (formerly Twitter)
  • Instagram
  • Tik Tok
  • Snapchat
  • Reddit

Investigators collect and review a wide range of social media activity when looking for evidence, including: 

  • Posts featuring pictures or videos 
  • Comments or likes on specific posts
  • Stories or status updates
  • Search history
  • Phototags, geotags, or other location services 
  • Direct or private messages between you and other users

How Social Media Activity Can Affect Your Case

Prosecutors can and do use social media information as evidence in court to further their arguments and overall case narrative, including:

  • Self-Incrimination – Prosecutors could use previous posts, status updates, or comments to suggest possible involvement in criminal activity. 
  • Behavior – Based on your social media activity, prosecutors could construct arguments around your behavior, thoughts, or actions surrounding the situation. 
  • Relationships – Law enforcement can collect social media accounts and posts from your friends and followers to establish connections between individuals. 

What Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Do? 

criminal defense attorney can present a robust defense challenging the state’s evidence, including: 

  • Context – Photos and videos only capture specific moments, providing little context and a limited glimpse into a more extended moment. Your lawyer can explain the context behind a seemingly damning photo, refuting the state’s arguments. 
  • Relevancy – Like other types of evidence, social media content must be relevant to the case to be considered as evidence, and a lawyer can argue against the relevancy of including your social media accounts and activity in the case. 
  • Authenticity – Your lawyer can analyze the metadata of the digital content to determine whether the evidence was altered or fabricated and potentially dispute the content’s authenticity. 

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Criminal charges can derail your life, and nobody’s social media presence should unfairly incriminate them. Our attorneys at Greenwood Law know how terrifying it can be to face criminal charges. We won’t let an overzealous prosecution impact your life. Call or fill out a contact form today. We serve clients in Winston-Salem and the surrounding areas.

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