Articles Tagged with Social Media

fabian-grohs-396734-copy-300x240The law in Chicago is catching up to the reality that social media is a normal part of our daily lives. Currently there are new laws and rules of procedure that are designed to ensure that social media evidence can be used in court. The problem remains that evidence gathered from social media posts can be unreliable. There have been cases in which postings from Twitter and Facebook have been presented as evidence of crime, but the court has rejected them because they are not reliable.

From a personal point of view, all the posts that you make on social media can potentially be used against you in criminal trials. Even employers are now allowed to view your social media posts when they are made using their official equipment at work. The person who is posting can make use of the privacy options on the social media account in order to reduce the risk of being exposed later on when the police agencies are trawling for evidence. The Stored Communications Act (the SCA) of 1986 is a federal law that tries to provide some protection for posters.

Social Media Postings and Criminal Trials

Do we have a First Amendment Right to say anything we want to on social media; to make threats of violence against others, without fear of retribution? Social Media brawls, squabbles, and feuds on Facebook and Twitter, to name a few, are no joke. What often starts out as an innocent “back and forth” between sparring parties can grow ugly when there is a spillover from Facebook to reality; and sometimes that spillover can become deadly.

Facebook and Twitter accounts are now being monitored for possible criminal activities. Both federal, as well as state and local law enforcements have begun to use social media as one of their vehicles in the prevention and the solving of crimes. There have been court rulings that postings on social media sites have no expectation of privacy or confidentiality, therefore, anything you post in social media is accessible without the need for a warrant.

Even so, it has not been settled whether the First Amendment Right applies to threats of crimes of violence or murder on social media. Many social media users hide behind the anonymity of the profiles they create to behave in ways that would be totally unacceptable in the real world.

Have you or someone you know been arrested in Chicago?  It doesn’t matter if it’s a simple battery charge or a more serious charge of first degree murder.

Getting arrested can affect you in more ways than you can imagine.  Apparently, there are a few websites, such as, that post your mug shot online upon arrest.

While this initially doesn’t seem like a big deal, it is.  Let’s say someone is arrested and later released without having charges filed against them.  Your mug shot is now all over the internet for anyone to see.

This article lays out the issue:

And let’s then go with the scenario that someone is charged and goes to trial and is found not guilty. Guess what? His or her mug shot is STILL online for anyone to see.  So, these people who were either not charged or found not guilty go about their daily lives and decide to obtain employment.  As we all know, employers now go online to check out potential employees.  What are they going to find?  Probably your Facebook and Twitter posts, which may or may not be innocuous, but also your MUG SHOT!  How are you going to explain that one?

If you want to remove your mug shot, guess what now?  You have to pay upwards of $100 PER SITE to have it removed.  And how can you be sure that once you pay this fee, the site will actually remove it?  You can’t.

Again, you have to be careful in life on how you comport yourself.  There are consequences that can be long-lasting. Continue reading

Quite often, unfortunately, defendants facing Chicago drug charges or Chicago violent crimes charges feel the need to boast of the exploits.

As most of us are aware, people confess to many things on Facebook. Secret loves, bad habits, hidden longings; it appears that nowadays, nothing is too private or personal to appear on social media. While some may consider such confessions to be tacky—or at the very least, in poor taste—a Florida man recently went a step further by posting a photograph of the young wife he had just murdered, along with a confession—of sorts. While most Americans are long-past the point of being shocked by the daily news, this latest bid for attention has startled even the most cynical.chain-863724-m

Derek Medina, a South Miami resident, could possibly have benefitted from taking his own website a bit more seriously. That website, called, markets Medina’s self-help books on effective communication and marriage counseling tips.  A little over a week ago, Medina was apparently engaged in a verbal dispute with his 26-year old wife, Jennifer Alfonso. According to Medina, he pointed a gun at his wife, at which point she walked away, returning minutes later to inform her husband she was leaving. Medina then confronted his wife who reacted by “punching” him. Medina once again pointed his firearm at his wife, who responded by grabbing a kitchen knife. As Medina attempted to take the knife from Alfonso, she once again began hitting him, at which point he fired multiple shots from close range directly into her body.

Medina then took photos of his wife’s dead body and wrote a note which stated “I’m going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys take care Facebook people you will see me in the news my wife was punching me and I am not going to stand anymore with the abuse so I did what I did I hope u understand me.”  The photo and the note were then posted on Medina’s Facebook account. The image was online for approximately five hours before Facebook employees removed the photo and disabled both Medina’s FB page as well as his wife’s. Even more bizarre, the couple’s ten-year old daughter was in the house at the time, although she was reported to be “unharmed.”

If you wonder why on earth anyone would post photos of their murdered wife it is likely you are not alone. Psychologists attribute this need to (over) share with the poster’s need to feel important or powerful. Unfortunately, Medina is not alone in his quest for attention. A 2011 rape of a 15-year-old girl was discovered after the four teens allegedly responsible shared a photo of her online and through text messages. Again in 2011, a Pennsylvania teen pled guilty to raping an inebriated 15-year-old girl then posted a message on Facebook asking for a hit man to kill the girl.  As a result of these types of stories, Facebook has been used to catch those Floridians suspected of illicit behavior with increasing regularity, becoming a tool for identifying criminal behavior and catching those responsible for crimes ranging from theft to poaching.

Of course, criminals have been publicly confessing long before Facebook came into being. Jailhouse confessions and barroom braggarts are rife in the world of criminal defense. Social media has simply given those people a different kind of platform, allowing them to share their misdeeds and brag about being bad. While millions of people use social media in a totally healthy manner every day, for others the ability to communicate with others without seeing or hearing them makes it harder to remember that actions come with consequences. In fact, following his Facebook posting, Derek Medina drove to see his family, telling them what he had done, then turned himself in to the police. Medina is currently being held without bond under preliminary charges of first degree murder. Continue reading