Friday, June 10, 2011

What You Post on Facebook Can Get You Arrested In Florida

St. Petersburg Criminal Attorney and Former State Prosecutor Melinda Morris of the Morris Law Firm discusses how what you post on Facebook can get you arrested in Florida.


“You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law...”  We’ve all heard Miranda rights, but few believed they applied to what is posted on Facebook.  Now “anything you say or do on Facebook” may be held against you in a court of law in Florida.

The most recent example is a Tampa man charged with a misdemeanor for taking a deer during the closed season for deer hunting and a second-degree misdemeanor for the illegal taking of an American alligator.  The first-degree misdemeanor can result in up to 6 months in jail, and a fine up to $1000, while the second-degree misdemeanor can result in up to 3 months in jail, and a fine up to $500 - all resulting from the man posting pictures of his hunt on Facebook which were subsequently reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Why This Matters To You:

With over 150 million users in the United States and growing, Facebook has become an important and widely used social networking tool.  Users can very simply post Status Updates to their Walls including text, photos, and now even videos.

Unfortunately, many Facebook users don’t think of or realize the consequences of posting information to the site.  Depending on your Facebook security preferences, your posts may be seen by Friends, Friends of Friends, or anyone on the Internet.

In Florida, anything posted on Facebook may be used as evidence of a crime and used against you in a court of law.  The State Attorney’s Office even has the ability to subpoena records from Facebook that may show user activity and content.

Photos and postings on Facebook are being used by prosecutors to “beef up their case” and as evidence of guilt in criminal prosecutions.  Always assume whatever you post on Facebook is fair game and can be used against you.

What To Do Next:

You have a very narrow window of time between when you are arrested and when the State Attorney's office makes a decision to file a criminal charge against you. Hiring an attorney immediately to negotiate on your behalf gives you the best chance of avoiding criminal charges.

If you have a been charged with a crime, contact a St. Petersburg First Time Offender Attorney to discuss possible defenses and specific strategies that may exist in your case.  Call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736 to discuss your case directly with an attorney, or fill out our Online Form to be contacted for a Free Initial Consultation.  The Morris Law Firm can help and has specific knowledge and experience in Cybercrimes and representing First Time Criminal Offenders throughout Pinellas County and the entire Tampa Bay, FL Area (St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Hillsborough, Pasco, Bradenton, Manatee, and Sarasota).