ACCUSED OF A SEX CRIME? STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA
The digital age can provide us with a wealth of information, but it can also serve as a source of convenient destruction for many people. Although sexual assaults were reported at a rate of 86.9 per 100,000 population in Ohio during 2015, the reality is that even false allegations of crimes like these can spread like wildfire -- thanks to the internet. At a time when victims can easily share their story by using a hashtag and society is quick to weigh in on the alleged guilt or innocence of the accused well before a trial has ever taken place, this serves as a somber reminder that those accused of a sex crime should steer completely clear of social media.
That's actually true if you've been accused of any type of crime or are involved in any scenario that might involve court proceedings (like a divorce or custody battle). But it's especially true if you're facing potential litigation resulting from alleged sex crimes. Posting on social media -- even if there's nothing directly connected to a given person or your case -- can provide law enforcement and prosecutors with evidence that can hurt you at trial. And since the ability to reach a wide audience and the inclination to overshare are both quite high with social media, the temptation to defend yourself can prove to be too much for many people.
When you choose to work with a law firm and refuse to answer any more questions posed by police officers, that doesn't automatically mean that anything you say anywhere won't be used against you. And even if your profiles are private, that doesn't indicate everything you say will be safe. There are ways to bypass privacy settings and there's nothing to prevent people on your friends or followers lists from sharing information you post with law enforcement. Nothing you post on the internet is truly private; once it's out there, it's impossible to take back (whether you delete a post or not).
It's not only those charged with a sex crime who need to be careful here. Individuals who make these allegations should also refrain from social media use. Any inconsistencies can be used to poke holes in their story, which could potentially be to your benefit. Your lawyer may use information discovered on these networks to show the accuser is not trustworthy or a reliable source. You, as the person accused of a sex crime, may not need to be quite as careful about how you use your social media, as everything compiled against you will need to be evidence-based. However, it's still important to err on the side of caution.
If you've been accused of sexual assault or another sex crime, there's nothing that says you should go back and delete all of your accounts (your lawyer may even advise against this). However, you'll need to be extremely cautious about everything you post and be sure not to touch on anything dealing with your case, no matter how insignificant or innocuous a comment might seem to be.
If you've been accused of a sex crime, you'll need help from experienced criminal defense attorneys. For more information on how we can assist you during this time, please contact us today.