Attorney Blog

Social Media: Source of Evidence for Lawyers


There is no shortage of opportunity to communicate in the Internet Age. The Internet is open to all people, regardless of sex, race, political persuasion, or even age to some extent. A criminal defense law firm in New York can conference with a Phoenix attorney as if they are in the same room. Skype allows many people to chat face-to-face with people thousands of miles away.

However, the ability to communicate over the Internet comes with a price: Once something is typed over the Internet, it stays accessible almost forever. Lawyers can use this as a great way to collect many different types of evidence for court.

Best Sites Lawyers Look for Evidence

There are a number of websites that are virtual gold mines for lawyers who want to find evidence. The first is Facebook. Facebook is open primarily because the Facebook servers store everything, even if it has been deleted. A good hacker can dig up that picture you deleted a few years ago. Every photo, every wall post, and every GPS location is stored somewhere. Facebook also keeps changing its privacy settings every so often. Unfortunately for you, those settings almost always reset your privacy settings so that all of your posts are visible to the public. People you don&#39t know can find out when you got married, your birthday, your mother&#39s maiden name, your pet&#39s names, and your high school. Any illegal or questionable activity is also broadcast and remains available as evidence.

The second source of social media evidence is Twitter. Twitter specializes in short messages, or �tweets� that give some relevant piece of information, such as a link or an emotion. People who use tweets to emotionally vent are susceptible to having those outbursts saved, printed, and quoted out of context against them. In several cases, Twitter messages have been brought in to help establish frame of mind and current whereabouts at the time of the crime.

Types of Evidence Lawyers Look For

A criminal defense law firm could look for many different kinds of evidence, but the two most popular are actual evidence and circumstantial evidence. The first is actual evidence. That is evidence that shows a crime has been committed. For example, photographic evidence of a bar fight or pictures of naked minors would fall in this category. Those photos are direct evidence of crimes, and though they may not be admissible in court, they will be used for the initial charges and for the interrogation. The second type of evidence lawyers look for is circumstantial evidence. This type of evidence includes threats against people who are later harmed, posts that give your location as being close to the crime near when the crime occurred, and conversations that reference possible crimes. To give an example, if two Arizona residents are having an angry conversation on a social media site and one of them ends up injured, then that conversation can be used by a Phoenix attorney against the other party as circumstantial evidence.