Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

MASSACHUSETTS LAW ENFORCEMENT USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO AID THEM IN THEIR FIGHT AGAINST DRUG, GUN AND SEX CRIMES

We all know that the internet and social media phenomenon has decimated many industries. Anyone see Borders Books, Strawberries Music or Blockbuster around lately? There are some areas, however, where the Internet and social media provide great help. One of these areas is in law enforcement.

This blog has covered many stories in which law enforcement has used the Internet to go after folks in the prostitution trade. But it is not anywhere close to being limited to that.

Take the case of Christopher Doherty, for example. This 30-year-old Weymouth gentleman recently posted himself into trouble through craigslist. His post claimed that he was seeking a “sexy coke- friendly hottie to play in the snow with.”. Instead of his “hottie”, Mr. Doherty got the attention of an undercover police officer who spotted the ad and responded.. According to law enforcement, the undercover officer even was even able to get Doherty to send him photographs of the allegedly drugs. Mr. Doherty became a guest of the Commonwealth on December 2nd.

Weymouth cops earlier this month busted Christopher Doherty, 30, on cocaine-possession charges, saying in a police report he posted a Craigslist ad seeking a “sexy coke-friendly hottie to play in the snow with.” An undercover cop spotted the ad and responded, reeling Doherty in and even getting him to send pics of the suspected drugs, police said. Doherty was arrested Dec. 2.

Then there is the tale of 44-year-old Reid Jones of Marblehead. Just yesterday, he pleaded guilty in a sexual assault case with in which prosecutors say they they relied on photographs he posted online. Prosecutors say that he assaulted and unconscious woman, photograph the attack and posted some of the pictures on the Facebook page he made in her name. he now begins a sentence of 5 to 7 years in prison in connection with the 2010 incident. He was charged with rape, indecent assault and battery, identity theft and photographing in on suspecting person in the nude.

As mentioned above, investigators have often successfully used social media to aid them in their Omni present war against the sex trade. For example, earlier this year, Boston police officers busted approximately A dozen gentlemen in “operation party favors”. As you know from prior postings, it is very important to law enforcement to have fancy names for their operations particularly when going after prostitutes. In any case, the officers posed as prostitutes this time on social media sites and solicited sex in exchange for drugs. Brookline police say they made two similar arrests in the past week – one Friday, another Saturday.

“As prostitution and human trafficking moved online, so did our investigations,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s Office. “You go where the crime trends take you.”

Sometimes, suspects’ social media over-sharing ends up being their undoing. In Chelsea, police this summer spotted a Facebook photo of a known con holding an automatic weapon, chief Brian Kyes said. When police went to the man’s home, they didn’t find the automatic, but did find another illegal handgun and charged him accordingly, Kyes said.

“They have to know in the back of their heads there’s a chance they’re going to get caught,” said Weymouth police Capt. Richard Fuller. “Maybe we respond to one in a thousand ads. But if you’re that one, you’re going to get arrested
“The crooks use it for one reason, and we use it for a different reason: to identify them and catch them,” said Braintree Police Chief Russell Jenkins, whose cops commonly trawl classified-ad sites to catch prostitutes plying their trade at local hotels. “It’s just making use of the tools that are out there. It’s a tool in the toolbox.”

Social-media sites have proven useful in everyday investigations, as well, Jenkins said. Police will hit classified sites in search of recently reported stolen property, and in other cases will look at suspects’ Facebook pages to identify potential accomplices.

“We go onto his page and look at his friends, and the victim will say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the guy who was with them,'” Jenkins said. “It’s huge. It’s very helpful to us to be on sites from time to time, just to see what’s out there.”

Attorney Sam’s Take On Legalities Of Internet Investigations

Rest assured, law-enforcement I’m not the only ones who go to the Internet to get help in a criminal matter. Any experienced criminal defense attorney in this day and age will do the same thing. sometimes there is a problem with admissibility at trial, but it is better to have the information then not to have it.

Being prepared is a critical part of the battle for any experience from defense attorney

“But, Sam, isn’t this against people’s constitutional rights? I mean, don’t police officers have to give Miranda rights before they use statements?”

This is actually something completely different. These statements that are being made online are made voluntarily and not while in custody. Being in custody for an interrogation is necessary in order to trigger a motion to suppress statements.

“Well how about a entrapment? Isn’t this entrapment?”

It depends how it plays out. However, in the most cases it is not entrapment. The suspects are already online either offering or looking for criminal activity. Another words, they are there before they ever get into contact with law enforcement.

And so the bottom line here, folks, is that this is yet another area where we must adjust our behavior due to the Internet. Anything you put out there on the Internet can be used against you. Ask anyone ever charged with child pornography. Just as you must now be careful with what you say and to whom, lest it be misinterpreted, the same is true online.

They have been a number of cases where in a prosecution began because of some rather can Cindyann he language written in poetry or song that was posted. The suspects generally indicate that it was fantasy. One young gentleman spend some time in custody because he wrote and performed a rap song which basically said that he was going to be a bigger blast than the explosions at the Boston Marathon.

“Hey, Sam, what about the First Amendment?”

Oh, it is still there. It is simply being eroded piece by piece.

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For the original story upon which this blog was based please go to http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/12/cops_turn_to_facebook_craigslist_to_bust_perps

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