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How Social Media Can Destroy Your Case

If you are involved in a legal dispute of any nature - criminal, personal injury or family law - it is crucial to assess your social media habits because they can negatively affect your case. Even if your social media use is careful, all it takes is one friend or family member to harm your legal situation.

We encourage our clients to be hyper vigilant about what they post on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Imagine what people on the other side of your legal dispute will think about what you and your friends share, viewing it in the worst way. Your thoughts and photos can send an unintended message when taken out of context and put in the hands of your legal adversaries.

Below are some examples of how social media can damage your case.

Criminal Law: A woman was charged with involuntary manslaughter after she killed a pedestrian while operating her vehicle while intoxicated (OVI). Prosecutors began looking for online evidence to help their case - they always do - and discovered a large amount of photos where the defendant was abusing alcohol. The evidence helped the prosecution obtain the severe sentence they were pushing for.

Personal Injury: A man was seriously injured in a car accident where the other motorist was at fault. His injuries left him unable to work and enjoy life like he used to. While he was still in the claims process, he uploaded pictures of him playing with his grandchildren. Although he was having one of his better days and only played with his grandchildren for a few minutes before experiencing severe pain and sitting down, the Facebook photos suggested otherwise and the insurer sent him a settlement offer far below what it was previously considering.

Family Law: A woman in her 40s was in the process of divorcing her husband of 15 years. They had three children together and were now locked in a contentious custody battle. The woman went on a vacation with some girlfriends and one of them uploaded photos of the women consuming alcohol and acting silly. At her next court hearing, she was horrified and surprised when her husband's attorney presented the photos to the judge as evidence of substance abuse issues and poor judgment.

Remember: Privacy settings are not a legitimate safeguard. Assume anything you post will be seen by everyone.

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