Friday, June 8, 2012

Unwise Use of Social Media Can Bring Criminal Charges in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Criminal Attorney and Former State Prosecutor Melinda Morris of the Morris Law Firm discusses how the unwise use of social media sites such as Facebook can bring criminal charges.


There have been many examples of seemingly innocuous use of social media sites such as Facebook that have ended with the user facing criminal charges.  Most recently, a group of friends who planned to party at Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County posted images of their libations that they appropriately dubbed the “mountain of booze,” to sites such as Facebook (through the Socialcam app) and YouTube.  Unfortunately for the revelers, a park volunteer had a Google Alert setup to send a message when anything was posted online regarding “Fort De Soto Park.”  The volunteer alerted park security who trespassed the organizer of the group who had made the reservation.  The trespass can come with a criminal charge which is a second degree misdemeanor.

Why This Matters To You:

In this case, the alleged offenders were simply using social media like so many others do.  With advances in technology authorities and law enforcement are able to closely monitor online activity that may violate the law and respond almost immediately.  In the case of the Fort De Soto partiers, authorities trespassed and escorted the party off the premises before the party even began.  The organizer may face a second degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Users of social media sites should be aware that over-sharing can bring criminal charges.  The Fort De Soto partiers posted a video that detailed both the exact quantities of alcohol they had on hand (none of which is allowed in a Pinellas County park) and their exact location.  In other cases of social media use leading to criminal charges, users have posted threats or actual evidence of a crime they have committed including photos and/or videos.  While the users may think that this information may not bring criminal charges, it in fact can be used by law enforcement as evidence of a crime.

What To Do Next:

If you have been charged with criminal offense in the Tampa Bay area, contact the Morris Law Firm, a St. Petersburg based Criminal Defense Law Firm that works with first time offenders 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 (found on our main web site) to be contacted for a free initial consultation.  The Morris Law Firm can help.  Attorney Melinda Morris has specific knowledge and experience in representing alleged felony offenders throughout the entire Tampa Bay, FL area, including Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.