Our Delray Beach and West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert have written extensively on the risk you take when uploading incriminating photos to social media.
If Dupree Johnson hadn’t previously read about the risk on our blog, he sure learned the lesson a little over a year ago when he was charged with an astonishing 142 felonies after a Palm Beach County police officer discovered incriminating “selfie” photos on Johnson’s Instagram page.
In this post, we’ll discuss what law enforcement officers found and what implications that had for Johnson and has for everyone else on social media. Johnson’s case was one of many and while his might’ve been among the most outrageous, people need to take what happened to him as a warning that law enforcement has eyes all over — especially on social media.
To be clear, the discovery of the content on Johnson’s Instagram page wasn’t what injected him into the criminal justice system; in fact, as our Delray Beach and West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers know, it was sort of the opposite. The Palm Beach County police officer said that the only reason he decided it’d be worth it to scroll through the photos on the Instagram account was that he knew Johnson’s criminal record. At just 19 years old, Johnson had a rap sheet of many crimes, including burglary, grand theft, felony possession of a firearm.
The photos discovered by law enforcement officers were, as the Miami New Times put it, “insane.” (They can be viewed here.) After reviewing the photos (which showed Johnson flaunting handguns, gold chains, “grills,” and stacks of cash) on the Instagram account, Palm Beach County authorities quickly issued a search warrant and law enforcement officers searched Johnson’s home in Lake Worth.
During their search, our Delray Beach and West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers know that authorities found $250,000 worth of stolen jewelry, electronics and firearms. Based on their findings, authorities determined that Johnson was likely a leader in a string of scores of burglaries in 55 years+ communities in Boynton Beach.
To this day, Johnson’s case serves as a stark warning that what you upload to the internet can be used as damning evidence against you. If not directly, it can be used to justify a search warrant which can yield lawfully discovered evidence which can be used to put you away.
Our Delray Beach and West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers know that in this day and age, when such a significant percentage of our lives is documented on social media apps and websites such as Facebook and/or Twitter, Instagram, Google+, etc., it’s very important to remember that uploading photos of you and your dog is cute, uploading photos of you and a new fling is attention-grabbing, and uploading photos of you and stolen property is damning and can lead to your being a convicted felon behind bars.
If you have any questions about the use of social media-based evidence, or if you’ve been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please call our criminal defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.