How Seemingly Innocent Social Media Posts Led To An Arrest On Florida Fraud Charges
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, connect with your community, and even market a business. However, it is also possible to share too much via these platforms. A recent case shows how content can also lead to criminal charges, and a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office covered the details. The defendant was arrested and convicted for fraud after receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a fake back injury. He had posted photos to social media, including images of him riding a bike, lifting weights, taking adventurous vacations, doing yard work, and fishing. The judge sentenced him to 30 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay more than $732,000 back for workers’ comp benefits.
Sharing too much on social media can harm your rights in more ways than you expect. You can avoid harsh consequences by retaining a Florida criminal defense lawyer, since there may be privacy considerations. Some examples will convince you to use caution when posting to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms.
Posts Leading to Arrest
In the recent fraud case, it was social media content that got the defendant into trouble. Investigators clearly were suspicious about his workers’ comp claims, and they decided to dig deeper to determine if he was really suffering from a disabling medical condition. Despite what you might expect, your own extremely strict, high-level privacy settings will not fully protect others from seeing:
- Your status updates and tweets;
- Photos and videos you post;
- Visual content posted by others, in which you appear or are tagged;
- Comments you post on others’ content; and,
- Check-ins at certain locations.
While the defendant’s posts did not show actual criminal activity taking place, they contradicted his sworn statements regarding disability. The misrepresentations were grounds for an arrest on fraud charges.
Content Impacting Your Rights as a Defendant
Even after being charged, you should be cautious about posting anything to social media; it is even worth shutting down your account while the case is pending. One of the risks with sharing too much during prior to trial relates to the bond conditions for your pretrial release. Depending on what the judge ordered for bail, your social media content could reveal:
- Drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs;
- You left the state or jurisdiction without the court’s permission;
- You are not maintaining employment or continuing with education; or,
- Other violations of bond conditions.
Note that social media posts carry some of these same concerns when you are on probation
How Social Media Posts HELP
Of course, the content you post online can also serve as a defense. Photos and images might reveal an alibi, show that an accuser was threatening YOU, or provide other evidence to support your case.
Trust a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney for Legal Help
For more information about how social media and online activities can impact a criminal case, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. You can set up a consultation at our offices in Jupiter, FL by calling 561-626-8880 or visiting us online.