The Impact of Social Media on Texas Criminal Cases

With the proliferation of smart phones, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the way information is disseminated and consumed. Social media, in particular, has become an integral part of our lives. These online media outlets influence not only our business & personal lives, but can also have a powerful impact on the outcome of criminal investigations and open cases in the criminal justice system. As a Board Certified® criminal defense attorney with over three decades of experience, I’ve seen firsthand how social profile updates and other postings have significantly influenced the trajectory of criminal cases. Social Media & Criminal Investigations Federal & local law enforcement agencies take full advantage of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and use them as tools in their investigations. Local & federal police agencies see these platforms as treasure troves of information. Your updates on these platforms can provide police and others with tons of information like your location, activities, associates, and even incriminating evidence. In Texas, the police can use this information as probable cause for a warrant, as outlined in the Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 18.01(b). As long as it satisfies the Texas Rules of Evidence, the information police copy or screenshot from your social media updates is admissible in court. However, there are limits. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States protects U.S. Citizens against unreasonable searches. This protection extends to your social media accounts. Without a warrant, the police can’t compel the owners of social platforms to […]