Call today at: (559) 443-7442

Criminal Charges Arising from Social Media Activities

Jan 17, 2018 by Mike McKneely in Criminal Defense

The use of social media has exploded over recent years. Much of its use involves keeping in touch with family and friends, sharing pictures and videos, establishing a marketing presence for businesses, providing information on current events, etc. However, social media may also be used to track and investigate individuals suspected of engaging in criminal activity. A Fresno criminal defense lawyer can help you understand how these online media platforms may have been used by law enforcement to develop any criminal charges filed against you.

Individuals are arrested based on information law enforcement obtains through social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook. All too often, a person will share their plans to commit a criminal offense or advertise an offense they have already committed. This information provides law enforcement with strong evidence to file criminal charges.

If the state of California has filed criminal charges against you, it is important to obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney who will protect your rights. Attorney Michael McKneely is a strong legal advocate with extensive experience defending clients against criminal charges. Allow him to evaluate your case and work with you to build a strong defense.

Call us today at (559) 443-7442 or reach us through our contact form to arrange a free case evaluation with a skilled Fresno criminal defense lawyer.

How Police Use Social Media

Over the last several years, law enforcement has tapped into the potential of social media as never before to help them investigate and stop criminal activity. Police departments across the nation operate their own Facebook and Twitter pages to help them stay connected with the public and receive crime tips. Information obtained through social media is used extensively in court cases in California, and across the country.

An experienced Fresno criminal defense lawyer can explain how law enforcement agencies are able to access and utilize various types of social media information in their investigations, including:

  • Posted photographs or videos that serve as convincing evidence
  • Activity that reveals a suspect’s location at the time of an alleged crime
  • Status posts or updates to a friend’s Facebook wall or Facebook group

Law enforcement may take the step of accessing and using information available on the Twitter and Facebook feeds of a suspect’s friends. They can use tips and information received from witnesses who are able to see pictures and posts concealed from public viewing. An individual police officer may even “friend” a suspect on Facebook in order to gain access to that person’s posts and private information.

One example is the case of the “Browner Boys Gang” and how the police used evidence from social media to file criminal charges against them. This group of young men broadcast plans to carry out a burglary in a status update on Facebook. A Brooklyn police officer added them as friends – they accepted the officer’s friend requests – and they were subsequently trailed and arrested after broadcasting their plans on Facebook to commit the burglary.

An experienced Fresno criminal defense lawyer who understands the implications of social media evidence can help defend you against charges originating from these sources.

Constitutionality of Searching Social Media Accounts

Some concerns have arisen over investigators delving into the private lives of individuals through their social media accounts, with the claim that it violates the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches. However, many cases involve law enforcement obtaining information from a person’s account through a warrant based on probable cause. In other cases, an investigator can access such information by communicating with a friend of the suspect or directly friending the suspect. These actions don not currently require a warrant.

Posts that are public on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform may have even less protection from the searching eyes of the authorities.

Contact a Skilled Fresno Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case

If you are up against criminal charges in California, you need a strong advocate who understands your dilemma and knows how to fight vigorously on your behalf. Attorney Michael McKneely of Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer has extensive criminal defense experience and the skills to defend you against the prosecution’s case.

Request a free, initial consultation about your case. Send us a message through our contact form, or call our office today at (559) 443-7442.

COVID-19 Notice: Our firm is open and available to help. We are all being impacted in different ways, but we will all get through this together.Learn More