Can a social media post lead to a criminal arrest? The answer, at least in Illinois these past few years, is a resounding “yes.” You might think that you have protected your social media accounts with all the right privacy settings. But that may not stop the police from using social media posts to identify, locate, and arrest you, as evidenced by these recent cases in which social media posts helped police nab criminals.
Instagram Video Results in Drug Charges
Consider a case involving a 16-year-old male in Peru, Illinois, who posted a video of “an individual displaying a firearm in a threatening manner.” The 13-second video was only up on Instagram for a short time before it was removed, but it was up long enough for some Ottawa students to see it and report it to their school resource officer in February 2018. The Peru police quickly located the teen and extensively searched his residence, finding illegal drugs but no firearm. The young man was charged with disorderly conduct, unlawful possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
YouTube Video Nets Traffic Violator
Helmet-cam fun turned into an arrest on felony charges for a St. Charles, Illinois, man in 2017. The 23-year-old motorcyclist filmed himself fleeing from a police officer, speeding, and running red lights. For safety reasons, the police did not embark on a high-speed chase. The motorcyclist assumed police would not be able to identify him, because he had no license plate on his motorcycle. He posted the video on YouTube. A few days later, the St. Charles police department received an email with links to the anonymous YouTube video, as well as a Facebook page and Instagram account. The police were able to connect the heretofore anonymous motorcyclist to his real-world identity via tattoos visible in both the YouTube video and on his social media pages. The motorcyclist was arrested at his home a few days later and charged with several traffic crimes.
Police Facebook Post Yields Tips Leading to Burglar
When police in the small town of Kincaid, Illinois, needed help finding a serial burglar in January 2017, they turned to Facebook. They posted a video clip captured by a security camera at one of the shops that had been robbed. Local citizens viewed the video 11,000 times and gave the police about 50 “I think this could be so-and-so” tips. The town’s police chief has credited social media with playing a role in more than 50 percent of his team’s burglary arrests.
Based on these examples, everyone should be careful about what they post on social media. Know that the police are actively using social media themselves to gather evidence and support arrests and criminal charges.
Protect Your Rights with an Experienced Will County Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested, whether social media played a role or not, you need an attorney who will carefully investigate the details of your case and provide an aggressive defense. Contact a knowledgeable Joliet criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. For a free and confidential consultation, call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025; calls are responded to 24 hours a day.