If you’ve been arrested or have criminal charges, you should absolutely get off of all social media. Make no statements to anybody about anything; you’ve got to just clam up and not say anything online.

(Side note: if you’re being charged with sex offenses, the rules will be totally different for you. If you’re convicted of sex offenses, your conduct is going to change drastically. You’re not going to have internet access at home, for example, and chances are you won’t even be allowed to have a smartphone for a very long time).

For anybody else facing criminal charges, here are some things to keep in mind.

The way I see it, a lot of times, we’re walking through life, and we are receiving other individuals into our circle because we are facing outward to the world. But when something like this happens, where you’re looking at criminal charges, it’s an automatic trigger to turn around and face inward. So you are no longer just accepting other people into your universe: now you’re going to be defending whatever little piece you have of yourself, and you need to make sure that you protect that first.

So a lot of times, in that case, you need to shut everything down and stop talking to people who are outside of your immediate circle. Certainly, you might want to block the other individual involved or the alleged victim on social media, especially if there’s a no-contact order. As a criminal defense attorney, I think, in general, that this is good advice. But there may be examples of when we don’t want him or her blocked because my investigator may want to have your access to their profiles so we can see what THEY are posting.

But as it relates to social media, it is imperative that defendants shut up because there is an investigator on the prosecution’s side, and I’m certain that there’s going to be somebody in their office whose job it is to do a Google search on defendants and see what they have on their social media accounts.

So when I tell you not to talk to the police, and you comply, but then you make statements on social media, you may as well have talked to the police because everything you say is out there on the internet now.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t talk to anybody about your case, ever. In fact, I think it’s wise to remember that anybody who’s facing criminal charges is dealing with trauma. I actually learned that from a psychiatrist who told a room full of inmates that incarceration itself is traumatic and that you need to process it in the ways that everyone else processes what’s normally perceived as trauma.

When people come into my office, I know that they’re sick to their stomachs. They’re not eating; they’re not sleeping. They’re going through a traumatic experience. So, in addition to telling them to sleep and eat well and take care of themselves, one of the other things I tell them to do is to confide in people who know and love them.

As a human, you need that sort of thing because:

A) you need to be able to download and get some things off your chest, and

B) because you also need that camaraderie to know you’re not alone in this world.

So if you have some people you can confide in that are part of your small circle of friends you trust, you can talk to them in person. But you have to be extremely careful about social media.

If you already have made statements online, you should probably remove them as soon as you can. You don’t have to incriminate yourself (and that’s what the Fifth Amendment’s all about), so it’s totally fair to take down what you’ve already said or posted.

And then, from now on, please, don’t say anything more until your case is resolved.

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Frequently Asked QuestionsFAQ: If I Get Arrested, Should I Delete My Social Media Accounts?