TULSA, Oklahoma. When prosecutors ask social media companies for information on their users, the companies are required to turn over the information when prosecutors have a warrant. Yet, when criminal defense lawyers ask social media companies for information, they are denied this information. While criminal defense lawyers are able to access information gathered by prosecutors, there can be instances where defense attorneys will want to gather social media information that a prosecutor may not care to gather. In this case, defense lawyers are in a tough bind, where they must either ask the prosecution to access this information (which the prosecution is not likely to do) or find alternative means to access the information, which can be challenging if social media companies and private individuals refuse to turn over the information.
According to the Marshall Project, this creates an unfair imbalance between prosecutors and defense attorneys in criminal cases. Information is power. If your prosecutor is allowed access to more information than you can get, he or she will have more power than you do. Moreover, if criminal defense attorneys don’t have the ability to get a warrant to access social media information, the defense may lack crucial information.
In one case, a man facing murder charges claimed that he had been threatened on Facebook. The criminal defense lawyers were unable to access the information because Facebook refused to turn over the information without a warrant.
While defense attorneys can certainly ask the government for certain types of information or find the information themselves online, for many lawyers, this means many extra hours logged defending a client or trying many avenues only to reach dead ends, while a prosecutor only needs to hand over a warrant.
A case is currently being brought before the California Supreme Court to determine whether social media companies have a right to deny criminal defense lawyers’ crucial online evidence. For many clients facing criminal charges, the evidence criminal defense lawyers can unearth online can sometimes mean the difference between freedom and convictions. Many believe that the current laws that allow social media companies to deny prosecutors information are antiquated and don’t take into account changing media.
According to the American Bar, social media posts are considered admissible evidence in court.
Criminal defense lawyers will be closely watching the case as it could have implications on how they are able to gather social media information and the ease with which they can gather this information. Until the case is resolved, individuals facing criminal charges should always seek a qualified criminal defense attorney to represent them. The Henson Law Firm, P.L.L.C., is a criminal defense law firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma that uses the fullest extent of resources available to protect its client’s rights. If you are facing theft charges, drug charges, or other serious criminal charges, your future, your freedom, and your reputation may be on the line. You want a lawyer working as hard as the state to protect your rights. Visit our firm at https://myoklahomadefenselawyer.com/ to learn more about how we can help you.