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Know Your Electronic Footprint

Criminal defense practice 101 is to inform your clients "not to speak to the Police, and generally not to tell anyone (particularly family and friends) about your misdeeds." Indeed, the Fifth Amendment protects your right to be silent. The reality, however, is that some defendants ignore the admonishment and broadcast their criminal behavior across social media. If you represent a client, or are a parent of someone accused of a crime, look at their electronic footprint. Have they sent a text, emailed, Tweeted, sent a picture,or posted a Facebook message about the alleged misconduct?

Times have changed. It used to be that the discovery of "pay owe sheets" was a strong indicator of drug transactions. Now the Police expect to find cellphone records and text communications (albeit in code) of drug sales. Similarly, in many domestic violation cases, prosecutors as well as family law attorneys are subpeoning computer and phone records when it appears likely that the assaulter has referenced his/her conduct in an electronic communication.

It should be required protocol for any defense attorney to inquire from their client if the client has left an electronic trail of material that possibly could be discovered by the Government. If the material exists, the client is not compelled to save it--assuming that there is no court order to the contrary. However, most clients and attorneys are not computer experts, and deleted material may be retrievable--especially once sent to others. Be prepared.

If you have been accused of a crime, contact Law Offices of Karlstrom & Krebs today!