Law Office of Philip R. Nathe
Many people use Facebook on a daily basis to post status updates and photos of children or vacations. Some users go too far in what they publish, for instance a teen may post a photo of marijuana or ecstasy at a party. Law enforcement has taken note and has found that the social media site can be an effective crime-solving tool. One startling example occurred this summer in Chicago.
In July, a 62-year old man was robbed and assaulted by a 16-year old who was accompanied by two other teenagers. The attacker hit the man knocking him to the ground. The victim’s head hit the concrete and he later died from the trauma.
Shockingly the accompanying teens used a cellphone to videotape the assault. The teens then posted the video to the attacker’s Facebook page. The video was re-posted and was eventually seen by a work colleague of the victim’s son. The video was then taken to the police.
The incident highlights the porous nature of social media sites. With tagging and the ability for friends of friends to look at and re-post videos and photos, Facebook posts can reach a very large audience. Besides that, according to Reuters, since 2008 law enforcement officers have sought more Facebook account search warrants to look for status updates, photographs and videos.
In some cases, prosecutors may not be allowed to use Facebook evidence in court. One possible defense might be that someone else tampered with a Facebook page.
Anyone accused of a crime that might involve Facebook evidence should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. Criminal convictions can come with stiff legal penalties and may affect future housing, employment and educational opportunities.
Source: ChicagoTribune.com, “Cops: 2 more charged in deadly attack posted on Facebook,” Jim Jaworski and Bridget Doyle, July 16, 2012.
For more information, please see our Naperville violent crimes page.