What to do With Social Media After an Arrest

Happy Friday, everybody. Hope you had a great week and are gearing up for another good weekend. I know it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve seen you all. I know we had some good stuff coming out of [Ashley Sign’s 00:00:18] video and [James Whalen 00:00:20] Firm’s owner video. So, hope you enjoyed those, but now, I’m back, ready to keep rolling and seeing you guys every Friday. This week, I wanted to talk to you about something that does come up pretty regularly when I’m meeting with clients for that initial consultation. And that is what do I do with my social media while this case is going on? Okay, this is really more important, especially for my federal cases, where it’s a drug conspiracy or my state manufacturer delivery cases, where folks might have evidence of wrongdoing in their social media posts. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve shown up to court and an exhibit on behalf of the state or the government is a Facebook post.

So, I understand the concern of what do I do? Is there stuff that I need to go back and delete? Is there stuff I need to go back and change? All that stuff. Number one, the thing that most folks need to do, and that I tell everybody to do right away, is make sure all of your accounts are as locked down as possible. What I mean by that is set them to private so that the public can’t view it. I would change all of your passwords. Do everything you can to make sure that your information is as secure and as private as possible. However, the big thing that I have to instruct folks is do not, under any circumstances, go back and delete or alter any previous posts, okay? At all.

Because the last thing you want is to pick up an obstruction or a tampering with evidence charge because they knew about a post or they had already seen a post, and then, you go back and delete it or change it. You’re just going to end up in a whole lot more trouble than you already are. So, do not delete or change anything. But by all means, lock everything down so that it is private. But other than that, maintain it exactly as it is. And then, finally, moving forward, I would say, just stop posting completely. No posts about the case, obviously. No posts about meetings, or talks, or discussions, obviously. But really, I would say don’t post at all. No posts about updates, no posts about what you’re doing, no family vacation pics because all of that stuff, you’d be surprised at how easily it is to come back and bite you or hurt your case in the long run because of something that you posted and you didn’t even mean anything bad by it. But it can come back and hurt you. All right?

You might post yourself a picture here at a party, hanging out with friends, but if those friends are holding bottles of alcohol and there happens to be a bond condition that you abstained from the use of alcohol, now you’re in a lot of trouble because you’re at a party where alcohol is present. Even if you weren’t drinking, you’re going to subject yourself to a whole lot of questions from probation, or from pretrial, and all sorts of things that are very easily avoided by you not making that post in the first place. So, those are the three things that I recommend everybody do with their social media if there is an active investigation or, obviously, a criminal case, criminal charges pending against you. Lock it down, keep it as is, and stop posting moving forward. Those are really the number one, two, and three.

Other than that, there might be some specific things that you and I need to discuss, talk about in terms of going back in and finding old messages or finding old communications. That’s a discussion that you need to have with your lawyer on how best to do that, how best to try to retrieve that because there are ways that we would have to do it that would benefit us in terms of an evidentiary standpoint to make sure that we’ve got a good chain of custody on where these came from or how we got them. So, have that conversation with your lawyer. Don’t necessarily play investigator. I think the best thing to do would be to tell your lawyer, “Hey, I think there’s something in my post history that would be helpful. This is what I think it is. You want me to find it? Do you want to try to look for that? How do you want to do it?” And then, let your lawyer make that call, right? Because every case is going to be a little bit different on how we handle that.

As always, if you have any questions, need to discuss this further, want to chat about this or any of my other video topics with me, best way to get ahold of me is through email, which is on the slide at the end of this video. So, shoot me an email, go to my website, fill out a contact form, whichever you want to do. That’s the quickest and easiest way to get ahold of me so I can answer whatever questions you might have or discuss any topic really that you want. I’m here to help and here to answer any questions that I can. So, looking forward to talking to you guys soon. Again, next week, have a great weekend. Have a great week, and we’ll see you next Friday. Stay safe.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google