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Social Media Can Hurt Your Case! Advice from Your Miami Criminal Defense Attorneys

October 09, 2018

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People get arrested in Miami-Dade County and in South Florida on a daily basis. Police investigators build a case against a suspect by collecting evidence in the form of fingerprints, DNA, eyewitness identifications, and statements, to name a few. Once the investigator has enough evidence, he or she will either go out and arrest an individual, and/or have an arrest warrant signed by a judge and entered into a computer database. Recently, teenagers were arrested for stealing two luxury automobiles. The key information used to make the arrest was self-incrimination via social media. How can social media influence criminal arrests? Read on to find out from our Miami Criminal defense attorneys.

Social Media
The facts in the article allege that a homeowner woke up one morning only to find his garage open and both of his vehicles missing. Both vehicles were high-end, a Bentley and a Porsche. The police built a case by first recovering the surveillance video at the community's front gate, which shows both vehicles leaving the area around 3:00 am. Police were able to obtain the information off the plates of both vehicles. Police ran both plates through a database and received a hit on the Bentley at 7:00 am in Miramar. Police were able to locate videos posted online of teenagers driving both the Bentley and the Porsche. The owner of the vehicles contacted the police and told them that his Sun Pass account had posted two charges at two locations. Sun Pass provided digital images of the vehicles. From that information, police were able to obtain partial descriptions of the drivers.

It is readily apparent that at this point in the investigation that the police had very little evidence and not enough probable cause to arrest anyone in this theft case. Police decided to stake out the community where the auto thefts occurred. After being spotted by police, several teenagers fled the scene but were eventually captured by the police. After being arrested, the police searched one the teenagers, recovering his cell phone. The cell phone contained photos on social media that showed the owner of the cell phone sitting inside the Bentley that had recently been stolen. While there is no direct evidence that the teen stole the Bentley, there certainly was enough evidence to arrest him for the theft. The teen was charged with grand theft in the first degree, as the value of the vehicles exceed $100,000, which is a first degree felony punishable up to thirty years.

Man Using Social Media
The moral of the story is that if you decide to commit a crime do not photograph yourself committing it. It certainly limits your defense lawyer's ability to come up with a creative defense.

The case discussed in the article goes to show how individuals can ultimately convict themselves by using social media to brag about their criminal endeavors. While DMT, PA does not represent any of the individuals mentioned in this article, our criminal defense attorneys have represented a handful of clients who felt the need to take pictures of themselves while actually committing crimes and placing the photographs or videos on Facebook or other forms of social media. The best advice is not to create evidence that can be used to arret or convict you. In the end, bragging over social media will only help law enforcement and prosecutors put you behind bars.

My Palm Beach Coast
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