Friday, October 28, 2011

Florida Police Stake Out Social Networking Sites

St. Petersburg Criminal Attorney and Former State Prosecutor Melinda Morris of the Morris Law Firm discusses how Florida Police have begun to actively monitor social networking sites including Facebook.


The quintessential image of an undercover police stakeout has been a couple of officers in an unmarked car watching suspects with binoculars while sipping coffee and eating donuts.  Today, the officers may still be sipping coffee, but they are doing it at their desks while logged into Facebook and other social networking sites including Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace.

Law enforcement is now targeting gangs and gang members in these modern day online stakeouts.  In some cases what someone says or does (in a video) online can land them in jail.  Too often juveniles imitating gang culture or what they see in popular media can inadvertently focus law enforcement gang control efforts on them.

Why This Matters To You:

Law enforcement agencies in Florida are targeting social media sites including Facebook , Twitter, and YouTube to identify and monitor gangs and gang members.

At the same time, gang culture has seeped into popular culture infiltrating everything from music to clothing.  Juveniles often imitate what they see in movies, video games, music videos and other popular culture references to gang activity.  To law enforcement it is often difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate gang member and a youth who is just pretending or acting out lyrics from his or her favorite rap video.

In either case, law enforcement can charge juveniles with criminal activity based on what they post online.  Juveniles often post information on Facebook or videos to YouTube without thinking of the potential consequences.  Gang-like bravado and references to guns, violence, and retribution are all too common on the social networking pages of otherwise law abiding non-gang youths.  Taunting between youths can become severe, and oftentimes threats are posted online that may alone be cause for criminal charges.  Worse yet, if a juvenile actually commits a crime, all of their online activity may become additional evidence against them.

What To Do Next:

If your child has been arrested for a criminal charge, contact a St. Petersburg Juvenile Attorney to discuss possible defenses and specific strategies that may exist in your child’s case.  Call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736 to discuss your child’s 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 defending Juvenile Crimes offenders throughout Pinellas County and the entire Tampa Bay, FL Area (St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Hillsborough, Pasco, Bradenton, Manatee, and Sarasota).