Social Media and Criminal Law – What Victims and Witnesses Need to Know

social mediaIt’s no secret that social media has recently become a huge part of society. These days, social media users are tied into virtually everything –even the law. Government investigations and criminal litigation have turned to social media for a variety of reasons. Continue reading to learn what victims and witnesses need to know about the connection between social media and criminal law.

Social Media Used as Evidence

Social media is a form of communication which allows people to connect and share messages with family, friends and beyond. This information can be used by law enforcement to assist in the resolution of crimes.

The guilty on occasion share videos and photos of criminal acts, as well as information about their whereabouts and accomplices. Information presented on social media channels can also lead police to identifying individuals involved in gangs, stalking, domestic violence and other criminal activity.

In many cases, people reveal information that can be used against them in a court of law. And this doesn’t apply only in potential criminal cases. It can also be true for custody disputes, divorces, business law and more. If you are a victim or a witness that is aware of information that could help a case, screenshot the information from the social media site, save it for your records, and notify your attorney.

Subpoenas and warrants

Law enforcement agents are allowed to send subpoenas and warrants to different social media providers in order to obtain user information or incriminating evidence. Social media sites are required to oblige to the demands of law enforcement when legal documentation is presented. Many legal cases have been positively impacted by evidence gathered on social media.

So just because the guilty person has tight privacy settings on their social media presences, there are ways to access the information if legal documentation is available.

Intimidation of witness

Witness intimidation is not something that has developed from the popularity of social media. This act has been occurring for many years prior to this new social trend. However, witness intimidation has become more public and more threatening as social media continues to grow in use and popularity.

Witness intimidation making its way to social media platforms opens many dangerous doors for witnesses. Suddenly, the witness’ photo and statements become public, making them a target for harassment, threats and even physical harm.

Not only that, but individuals can create “anonymous” profiles to taunt, harass and scare witnesses and victims in a way that requires less effort. But that doesn’t mean the impact on the individual being harassed is any less.

In recent years, witness intimidation on social media has become a huge problem. So much so, that many law-makers are looking to make witness intimidation a punishable crime.

If you are a witness or victim, and you feel that you are in danger or living with fear and uncertainty, contact an attorney that can help you regain control of your life. The experienced attorneys at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss can help. Contact our team today.

 

Image courtesy of Jason Howie/Flickr

 

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