Switch to ADA Accessible Website
Orlando Criminal Lawyer

State Supreme Court Rules in Defense’s Favor, Ordering Social Media Companies to Turn Over Private Messages


We have previously discussed the challenges involved with obtaining social media evidence, in large part due to the Stored Communications Act. However, the California Supreme Court heard an important case earlier this year that addressed whether or not criminal defendants could obtain both public and private social media posts in order to prepare the best defense possible.

In July, the Court decided that case in favor of criminal defendants. Specifically, the court lifted a stay blocking the release of these messages and instead released an opinion finding that the defense team obtaining these messages was strongly justified in this case.

The Case

The case involved a 2013 drive-by shooting involving a victim who had allegedly “tagged” a suspect on Instagram. That suspect was committed for a term of 83 years, while the other defendants were indicted on attempted murder, murder, and other charges. Prosecutors claim that the suspects involved members of a gang and that the victim was a member of the rival gang that threatened one of the suspects on social media.

The defense team served subpoenas on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to obtain all of the postings relevant to the case. While the judge had previously allowed the public social media postings to be provided to the defense, this ruling addressed private postings, including those from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Social Media Companies Hold Steadfast to Claims Behind Stored Communications Act

Facebook maintains that federal law – the Stored Communications Act – prohibits them from turning over private account content to the defense team and that withholding these messages is necessary in order to protect user privacy interests. Facebook now has an ongoing appeal, however, if the ruling is upheld and the company refuses to handover the messages, it could be held in contempt of court.

Prior to now, law enforcement essentially had the only access to any and all social media content during their criminal investigations. As a result, while social media could continually be used against defendants (potentially implicating Fourth Amendment protections for those defendants), they were also denied access to that same content to form their defense. Law enforcement has consistently maintained that social media users have no reasonable expectation of privacy in that sphere.

Contact The Right Defense Attorney

Although the decision came out of the California Supreme Court, it is expected to be cited by defense attorneys around the country seeking to obtain private messages in a number of cases. If you have been charged with a crime in Florida, contact our experienced Miami and Orlando criminal attorneys at the Baez Law Firm to ensure that the very best defense is assembled on your behalf by aggressive attorneys who will fight to obtain everything necessary to protect your rights.




  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Miami Office

1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1410
Miami, FL 33131
Office: 305-999-5100
Fax: 305-999-5111

Orlando Office

250 N Orange Ave, Suite 750
Orlando, FL 32801
Office: 407-705-2626
Fax: 407-705-2625

Email Us

Fields Marked * Are required

DISCLAIMER: Completing and submitting this form or otherwise merely contacting The Baez Law Firm or any individual at the firm will not establish an attorney/client relationship. Our firm cannot represent you until we determine that there would be no conflict of interest and that we are otherwise able to accept representation of your case. Please do not send any information or documents until a formal attorney/client relationship has been established through an interview with an attorney and you have been given authorization in the form of an engagement letter with The Baez Law Firm. Any information or documents sent via this form or otherwise prior to your receipt of an engagement letter will not be treated as confidences, secrets, or protected information of any nature. Submitting information regarding your potential case will not bar The Baez Law Firm from representing or continuing to represent a person or entity whose interest are adverse to your in condition with your case.

protected by reCAPTCHA Privacy - Terms
Please review the highlighted fields. They are required.
DISCLAIMER: This website contains information about The Baez Law Firm that includes testimonial statements from persons who are familiar with the firm's services. The testimonials shown are not necessarily representative of every person's experience with us. Testimonials from every client are not provided. As no two situations or persons are identical, the facts and circumstances of your situation may differ from those for which testimonials are shown. This website also includes information about some of the past results that we have obtained for our clients. Not all results are provided, and the results shown are not necessarily representative of all results obtained by us. No two situation are exactly alike; every person's situation is unique and the outcome for each person depends on the individual facts.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2015 - 2024 Baez Law Firm. All rights reserved.
This law firm website and legal marketing are managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab Contact Form Tab