Incrimination via Instagram

Our South Florida criminal defense lawyers know that your presence on the internet has a powerful impact on your reputation; what you write, post and who you “like” or “follow” can lead to judgments about who you are and what you do. Moreover, some of those judgments can be made by police officers, prosecutors, and judges, who can link you to crimes based on your internet activity.
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Earlier this month, according to the Sun Sentinel, a shop on North Dixie Highway was broken into and robbed of $2,000 worth of e-cigarettes; when reviewing security tape footage of the robbery, the store owner was able to immediately identify the man in the video to police. The owner of Florida E-Cigs and Vapes knew he recognized the robber as someone who “follows” the store on Instagram, the popular photo-sharing smartphone application.

As it turns out, the 18-year-old Boca Raton man who was arrested for the crime was also a frequent customer at the store, so this also might have led to the store owner’s recognition of him. The fact is, however, that simply recognizing someone by face won’t necessarily lead to an arrest. If you see a familiar face, that doesn’t mean you know the name, address, age, etc., behind the face in question. But the fact that the accused burglar followed (and perhaps still follows) the store on Instagram meant that the store owner and police officials were able to access the suspect’s Instagram account and, therefore, all of the photos that he has uploaded to the site.

One of those photos was of his driver’s license, which conveniently includes his full legal name, age, address, height, etc., all characteristics which make it easy for police to identify, locate and arrest someone.

With the information provided to them by way of the suspect’s very own Instagram account, made available to them due to the fact that the suspect was an Instagram “follower” of the store he burglarized, police located the young man near Palmetto Park Road and SW Third Street. Law enforcement officers reportedly found the suspect in possession of the products stolen from the store he is accused of burglarizing.

Our South Florida criminal defense lawyers know that this case demonstrates the fact that your internet footprint is not as anonymous as you might think. With access to IP addresses, location services, etc., police can track your internet activity and link you to crimes to which you are accused of being connected.

Moreover, when you explicitly associate yourself with individuals and business on social networks, there is a direct, web-enabled line that links you to said individuals and/or businesses, and if you rob them, police will have an easy time tracking you. Additionally, you should never upload photos of your driver’s license to social networking sites; in addition to making yourself more identifiable in the vast, public sphere that is the internet, you also make yourself vulnerable to crimes such as identity theft.

Despite the fact that evidence such as that in this case seems incontestable, our experienced criminals defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know how to defend even the most difficult criminal cases. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact us for a free consultation. You can reach us by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to assisting you.

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