White-collar defendants should generally refrain from using social media platforms until their criminal cases are fully resolved. If an individual who is facing criminal charges related to non-violent financial crimes such as fraud or embezzlement does not feel as if they can stay off social media entirely, they should exercise extreme caution until their case concludes.
Just as anything that a defendant says to a police officer after arrest can be used against them, so can anything that someone posts on a public forum while they are being prosecuted for alleged wrongdoing.
There are a few potentially consequential reasons why white collar defendants need to treat social media with care. They include:
- Preserving the presumption of innocence: By posting content or engaging in discussions related to the case, defendants risk creating a perception of guilt in the eyes of the public or potential jurors. Prosecutors may also monitor social media accounts to gather evidence or build a case against the defendant.
- Mitigating potential evidence: Even seemingly innocent or unrelated posts can be taken out of context and used as evidence to support the prosecution’s arguments or establish a pattern of behavior.
- Adverse impact on reputation: Being associated with a white collar crime can tarnish an individual’s reputation and personal brand.
- Maintaining legal strategy confidentiality: Sharing details or discussing the case on social media can jeopardize the confidentiality of an accused individual’s defense strategy.
- Controlling the narrative: Staying off social media allows defendants to exert greater control over the narrative surrounding their case. By refraining from public discussions, defendants can avoid inadvertently making statements or sharing content that may be misinterpreted or manipulated by the prosecution or media.
By being mindful of their online presence, defendants can help safeguard their legal position and minimize potential negative consequences.