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Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor

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How Can Social Media Impact Your IL Domestic Violence Case?

Social media plays a large part in people’s lives today. Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter are used by millions of people in order to form and keep connections.

However, because social media has become so ingrained in the everyday lives of so many, it’s vital to understand how it can impact legal cases, including domestic violence. In some scenarios, the pictures or statements posted online can be used against a person who is accused of domestic violence. They may make an already complicated case that much more complex.

Here is what you need to know about domestic violence in Illinois and the ways that social media can impact your domestic violence criminal case.

Illinois Domestic Violence Law

In Illinois, domestic violence can count as a number of different actions taken by a defendant. Acts that involve these types of behaviors can be considered domestic violence if they are perpetrated against someone who is considered a member of the family or household:

Physical Abuse

This can include physical force, such as restraint or confinement, sexual abuse, purposeful and repeated sleep deprivation, and any behavior that is considered to be one that creates a risk of immediate physical harm.

Harassment

This is a type of conduct that causes emotional distress in the victim, such as disturbing them at work or school, repeatedly calling them, following them in public, keeping them under surveillance, threatening confinement or physical force, and hiding a child from them – or even just threatening to do so.

Intimidation

Using intimidation on someone who is dependent is also considered domestic violence. It occurs when a person makes another witness or participate in physical confinement, force, or restraint against another.

Illinois Domestic Violence Law

Interference with Personal Liberty

When a person threatens to commit or commits physical abuse, intimidates, deprives, or harasses another, then it is domestic violence in Illinois. This can mean depriving someone of food, shelter, or medicine unless they do something they don’t want to do.

Willful Deprivation

When someone purposefully denies a disabled or elderly person medical care, medicine, shelter, or any other assistance they may need, and it puts them at risk for harm, then it is domestic violence.

Who Is a Family or Household Member?

In order for domestic violence to be committed, one of the above acts must be perpetrated against someone who falls under the legal definition of a member of the household or the family. This definition includes:

  • Anyone married or who has previously been married
  • Anyone who is related to the perpetrator by blood or marriage such as parents, children, and stepchildren
  • Anyone who is currently dating or has previously dated
  • Anyone who has a child in common
  • Anyone who shares a dwelling or who has formerly shared a dwelling
  • Anyone who has been or currently is engaged
  • Anyone with a disability and their caregiver

Social Media as a Digital Witness

Social media has power, especially when you’re talking about in the context of charges of domestic violence. While it’s a great way to share your life with people you may not see often or connect with others in general, it can really damage a domestic violence case against you. Always remember that anything on your social media pages can be used against you in court as evidence.

You may be thinking that you can just make your pages private and that solves the problem, but be aware that it doesn’t. Social media platforms often will side with law enforcement and provide information that you may view as private during an investigation. Law enforcement often doesn’t require a warrant to get this information, so police can and will look at your social media.

Common Uses of Social Media Evidence

There are several ways that social media posts can be used as ammunition against you in a domestic violence case, including:

  • Providing new evidence against you
  • Confirming statements by witnesses or the victim
  • Finding new witnesses, suspects, or even victims
  • Linking together the information they may have that is missing from the case
  • Confirming your location during the alleged crime

They do these things through the use of pictures and posts that can confirm where you were, when, and who you were with.

Chicago Domestic Violence Defense

Remember, anything you share on social media is fair game to be used against you. Privacy settings won’t protect you, so it’s important to think about that anytime you do post. Don’t brag about illegal acts on social media, and never communicate about criminal conduct on these platforms.

Domestic violence charges are scary, so understand what can be used against you, and do your best to protect your rights.

About the Author:

Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.

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