Social media postings lead to arrest for Florida man
Police in Palm Beach County, Florida recently arrested a man that they suspected was involved in a string of local robberies. The arrest occurred after police became aware of some photos that he had posted to his Instagram account displaying potentially illegal activity. In particular, the photos displayed the man holding what appeared to be a gun, which he is prohibited from owning because of a past felony conviction.
After searching the man’s home, police have arrested him and are charging him with various crimes in connection with a series of thefts from area nursing homes.
Local news reports indicated that the man told police that his occupation was “thief.” This statement could be interpreted in a variety of ways, with one possible outcome being that prosecutors argue that the statement was an admission of guilt. This statement combined with the photos from Instagram will make it hard to convince a jury that the man did not have any involvement in the alleged robberies. Of course with images online it is always possible that the reality of the situation is different from what is depicted, and photos of this nature could certainly have been staged for shock value or to brag to friends.
However, the content combined with a criminal history does provide police with sufficient justification to conduct a search, even if the images were not of real guns or actual stolen property. As such, this case should serve as an important reminder to social media users that depictions of potentially illegal activity can lead to real-world consequences.
Source: New York Daily News, “Florida man’s Instagram photos lead to 142 felony charges,” Victoria Taylor, Dec. 14, 2013.