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David D. Diamond State Bar Certified Criminal Law Specialist

Tweeting and Posting your Way into Hot Water

The social media networking boom has changed the way law enforcement gathers evidence in a criminal case. In addition to patrolling the neighborhoods and streets, officers today are also patrolling online. People often display  information on their profiles that law enforcement may use to assist them in preparing a criminal case.

Recent statistics show that almost 900 police and sheriff's offices around the country have Facebook pages. An estimated 500 law enforcement offices use Twitter. (Source: 14WFIE.com: "Cops using Facebook, other social media to catch crooks", Nov. 26, 2010). This same article details how status updates from Facebook led to the capture of one fugitive when he posted "I'm on da run", and another when he posted that he was living in paradise in Cancun. Law enforcement is able to view all public profiles, and they often create false identities in order to "friend" a suspect on a social media site and gather information.  

District Attorneys in Los Angeles have introduced photographs taken from Facebook and Myspace as evidence in support of gang enhancement charges. These photographs often depict the defendant displaying hand signs and wearing gang affiliated colors. Often times the defendant is unaware that his profile and pictures are available for the public to view and download. 

Remember, it is best to set all privacy settings to the highest protection, and to never "friend" someone you do not know. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, and evidence from social media sites is being used against them, contact the Law Offices of David D. Diamond. Mr. Diamond is fluent in the rules of evidence, and may be able to have the evidence suppressed so that it may not be used against you.