Law enforcement can engage in many forms of surveillance during a criminal investigation. They may obtain a wiretap for a phone line. They may use a “stingray” to listen to cell phone conversations. They may use a search warrant to search a home or business. And they can simply sit a vehicle and follow the target of an investigation around the streets and highways of South Florida.
Or, they can sit at their desks and surf Instagram and Facebook pages. While social media has become a popular resource for divorce and family law attorneys to look for their adversaries indiscretions, the police are becoming more perceptive and alert to the potential evidence they can gather from various social media sites.
Miami-Dade detectives have used Instagram to obtain photos of suspects with stolen goods that they later used to convict the suspects. In one case involving suspected drug dealing, the police identified a convicted felon who had posted photos where he was handling guns, which is illegal.
Police used this information to provide probable cause for the search warrant of his home. There the discovered marijuana and cocaine, and they charged him with cocaine trafficking and weapons violations.
Social media has become second nature to many, and they post the record of their lives. For anyone under investigation by the police, the potential for inadvertent disclosures of potentially incriminating information is great.
One criminal defense lawyer notes he recommends his clients turn off all of their social media. Because with social media, even “private” material is never really private and the police can obtain virtually anything on those sites with the use of a search warrant.
Miamiherald.com, “Instagram equals Insta-bust for police in Miami-Dade,” David Ovalled, January 1, 2015