Social Media and Crime

Two news stories over the weekend illustrate a new trend of criminals using social media sites. How will this affect their criminal defense.?

The first story comes from ABC15.com. A Mesa, Ariz., family had their house burgled after Twittering their vacation plans. Israel Hyman and his wife use Twitter to promote their home-based video business, IzzyVideo.com.

Hyman’s Mac Pro, two 23-inch flat panel monitors, and printer were taken while the family was out of town.

With close to 2,000 followers on the site, it’s possible that Hyman tipped off the thief by broadcasting his travel dates on Twitter (which also updates his Facebook status). However, there’s also a good chance that it was a random act.

On the other side of the spectrum are criminals who boast about their crimes online, only to provide evidence against themselves.

In Columbia, S.C., Federal investigators tracked down a bank robber after the suspect posted a message about the crime on his MySpace page, according to CNet.

Joseph Wade Northington of Roanoke, Va., updated his profile with the message “One in the head still ain’t dead!!!!!! On tha run for robbin a bank Love all of yall.” He also changed his status to “Wanted”.

Northington allegedly robbed the Security Federal Bank in North Augusta, S.C., on January 20, and made off with $3,924.

While Northington was turned in by an acquaintance who recognized him on surveillance photos released to the media, there’s no doubt that the incriminating evidence Northington posted online will be detrimental to his criminal defense.


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