We’re currently in the Internet Age, where every thought and action is memorialized through some social media platform. Updates on what your friends are eating and seeing, where they’re traveling, who they’re with…everything you could possibly want to know and more is constantly being captured on the internet. While in many ways these advancements have increased our interactions with each other and provided meaningful updates on our lives, the flip side can be just as, if not more, harmful.
Any New Jersey criminal defense trial attorney will tell you the downfalls of social media as it pertains to pending criminal matters. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, read on to be aware of the looming dangers associated with social media usage.
Social Media, Defendants, and the Courtroom
How are these three things ever related? To put it in one sentence: Social media posts from or about a defendant may be used against him or her in the courtroom.
While some states use a heightened standard for authenticating (proving origination) social media evidence, New Jersey courts apply a very liberal standard. New Jersey follows its traditional Evidence Rule 901, which only requires evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter is what its proponent claims.
In the recent case State v. Hannah, a tweet posted by the defendant was admitted into evidence, which ultimately led to her conviction (448 N.J. Super 78 (App. Div. 2016)).
What is sufficient evidence? This can be a combination of factors, such as:
- Intimate knowledge of the event or issue
- Prior communication
- Information found on the social media profile
Today, social media provides a rich source of evidence for both sides of a case. As a seasoned New Jersey criminal defense trial attorney, I have a few pieces of advice to which I urge my clients to adhere:
- If possible, refrain from using your social media platforms altogether during your pending criminal matters.
- Narrow your privacy settings and do not add or accept any new friends.
- Disclose all social medial profiles to your New Jersey criminal defense trial attorney so that he or she may review the content and be aware of any potential adverse information.
- Because the duty to preserve evidence exists, you may be prohibited from deleting any previous posts or information.
- Never hide anything from your New Jersey criminal defense trial attorney. In most cases, the opposing side will find it and your attorney will end up blindsided. On the other hand, if he is aware of such information ahead of time, he can prepare a strong defense against any harmful social media evidence.
Contact A New Jersey Criminal Defense Trial Attorney Today
Don’t wait until it’s too late, find a skilled criminal defense trial attorney in New Jersey to represent you as soon as possible! Mark Catanzaro is ready and available to answer all your questions. Contact his office today!