We previously talked about how you can’t just say whatever you want on social media if it can be taken as a criminal threat, but it’s worth noting that even if you have a private account you still need to watch what you say online. Oceanside criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss suggests either fully vetting all your friend’s accounts or, better yet, never saying anything online that you wouldn’t say directly to a police officer.
Private Accounts Still Have Friends
If you have a private Facebook, Twitter or other social media profile, you might think that protects you from the prying eyes of police. As we mentioned in our list of surprising things police can do without a warrant though, police can actually create fake profiles and send you friend requests. In fact, they can even create fake profiles of people you actually know, meaning that friend you had in high school who just sent you a friend request could actually be a cop trying to investigate you.
That’s why Oceanside criminal defense attorneys recommend not saying anything on social media that you wouldn’t say to the police otherwise, or at very least, call your friends to verify that profiles sending you requests are actually who they say they are. And no matter what, avoid talking about things that could tie you to crimes.
This Activity is Legal
Only recently a man, Chaz Pride, convicted of a gang-related robbery tried to appeal his case based on the fact that one of his friends on a social media account was an undercover police officer. Pride bragged about a new gold chain in a post and the victim, who was previously unable to identify his attacker, was able to positively identify his chain. This was enough proof for the police to be able to able to obtain a warrant, giving them all the evidence they needed to secure a conviction.
The appeals court ruled that “Pride assumed the risk that the account for one of his ‘friends’ could be an undercover profile for a police detective” and ruled against him. In other words, unless a higher court rules differently in the future, police can continue to add people on social media in order to obtain evidence.
While you should be cautious about what you post online and make an assumption that anyone on your friend’s list could be a police officer, it’s important to remember that if you know you are speaking to a police officer you should always refuse to speak without your Oceanside defense lawyer present.
If you have any questions about what the police can or cannot legally do during an investigation, or if you believe your rights were violated during a police investigation, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation with Oceanside criminal attorney Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Paul Inkles