Young people who were born and raised in this digital era often have a different opinion and appreciation of online interactions than people who went without things like Facebook and Google for much of their lives. They may be savvier with adopting new technology and able to better understand the capabilities and restrictions of different platforms.
However, this doesn't mean they don't make some bad or misguided decisions when it comes to the use of electronic communications. No matter what age you are or how familiar you may be with the Internet, you can still find yourself facing some serious criminal charges for breaking the law online.
For instance, you may think that you can buy or sell certain illegal things like drugs online if you conceal your identity with a screen name or by using different apps. However, today's laws allow law enforcement officials to collect certain information you may assume is private.
This is the situation now facing six Florida residents who are accused of unlawful conduct involving marijuana. According to reports, police officers received information that the six people (all under the age of 23) were engaging in illegal drug behavior and then sharing videos of it using the app Snapchat. This particular app enables users to send and receive messages that can only be viewed for a matter of seconds and then supposedly disappear.
However, this doesn't mean what many users think it means. It is possible to keep images sent through Snapchat, and law enforcement agents can compel Snapchat and similar companies to disclose information about users. This means that metadata doesn't just disappear and people are not completely anonymous.
If you have engaged in unlawful behavior online and are accused of or have been charged with misconduct based on digital interactions, it can be crucial that you understand and protect your rights. Speaking with an experienced defense attorney in these situations can be the difference between minimized or dismissed penalties and a devastating conviction.
Source: Extract, "Snapchat video tip leads to marijuana arrests in Gainesville," Emily Gray Brosious, Dec. 29, 2015