Will police respond to social media posts admittng to/boasting about criminal acts?

Let’s say someone gets drunk and posts on their facebook “Whoo-hoo, I’m shitfaced and driving to the beach!”. And let’s also say that his facebook friends know where his house is and what route he would be taking to get to the beach.

If a friend called 911, would the police act on the information? Specifically, would they alert patrol cars along the highway to be on the lookout for him? And if they pulled him over, would they legally be allowed to administer a breathalyzer based on the information on his facebook page admitting that he was drunk?

Don’t need answer fast, this is just a hypothetical.

Something like this https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Bragging-Criminals-Caught-on-Facebook-by-Police-109892399.html

First, they wouldn’t pull him over just based on someone saying he was drunk (even himself). The police would have to observe his driving, and note signs of intoxication before they have a valid reason to stop his vehicle. If they don’t, then any evidence post-stop could be thrown out in court.

We have a non-hypothetical example here in Minnesota.
Years ago, the quarterback of our NFL team was refused service at a bar in a restaurant, because he was already intoxicated. Instead, they offered to call a taxi to take him home. He angrily refused, staggered out to his car, and drove away. The bar called the police, and warned them that he was driving unsafely. The police went onto the freeway and immediately pulled him over. (He was way over the legal limit when tested.)
But in court, the defense attorney got the police to say that they had not followed him and observed his driving, but had pulled him over based on the report they had received. So they couldn’t use the results of the test in court, and he beat the charges.

I’d assume part of it is the severity of the crime and how back-logged with other work the police force is.

Having said that I’ve heard multiple stories of people discussing crimes on facebook and being arrested for it.

Does it work like that in all situations? I’ve heard many stories of people getting revenge by planting drugs in someone’s car, then calling the police and say ‘XYZ was going to sell me drugs, but instead he pulled a gun on me and robbed me. His license plate number is ABCDEF’. Then the cops pull the guy over, find the drugs and its all over for them.

Whitney Beall

I seem to hear about all kinds of idiots getting caught behind Social Media posts.

Keeps me from posting all my fun adventures, I’ll tell you what! Well, that and I don’t video them. :wink: All I am wiling to share is me and the dogs.


All that graffiti has been since painted over. Good. I did neither.

This is absolutely true. But note that cops can become hyper picky and validly pull you over for all sorts of picayune reasons (you were going just barely over the speed limit; your tint was too dark; you rolled a stop sign) that might normally not be enforced, but are technically violations, even though they really want to pull you over because they suspect you for another crime. So called pretext stops are legal.

I’ve read more than once of some dumbass posting pictures of their bongs, dank weed, blunts, and shake, on FB, and then the cops coming calling. It happens.

Wouldn’t a report from someone else (especially from a professional at spotting drunkenness, like a bartender, or from the person themself) be enough for the standard of probable cause required to pull a car over? Is it actually in the law that the police officer has to personally witness the probable cause?

Of course, this is all state law we’re talking about, so there are going to be fifty different answers.

Not the same thing. The misdemeanor is driving drunk, which was indeed done in the officer’s presence (even if he didn’t notice it on its own). And the arrest, if any, will only come after a breathalyzer and/or field sobriety test, which would then provide the needed evidence. We’re talking about the lower standard needed for a traffic stop, not the higher standard needed for an arrest.

There shouldn’t be a reason that social media is off-limits to law enforcement as a source of information relating to issues they are responsible for investigating. Fish and wildlife officers in my area will peruse online listings of pets for sale looking for outlawed species (invasive fish, monkeys, etc) and then go pay the seller a visit and confiscate the animal.

It would probably be a matter of how credible the person reporting the offense sounded when they described why they think someone is driving drunk. If their story and reasoning sound reliable and an officer is available and nearby I don’t see why they couldn’t stop the person. How the stop and any charges stemming from it plays out in court would depend on how well the officer followed protocol and filled out their paperwork during the process. I don’t think there is a blanket “never follow up based on social media info” policy in place.

I remember a case a few years ago about a couple of teens who had been convicted of underage drinking and getting probation. They posted on Facebook photos of them drinking, with commentary of the nature of “fuck you, judge.”

The judge heard about it. He was not amused and their probation was revoked.

Of course, that’s slightly different; probation is different from being charged with a crime, but there are plenty of examples of people boasting about something illegal on Facebook and getting a visit from the authorities.

In England a large organized crime ring was brought down a decade ago because one of the supposedly poor participants showed himself on Facebook holding a giant wad of bills when the police already suspected him for money laundering.

It’s going to depend on a lot of things- what the crime is, what was posted,the jurisdiction and so on. NYPD is not going to spend one second looking for your drunk friend driving to the beach, if for no other reason than because it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. That doesn’t mean Barney Fife in Mayberry doesn’t have time.

But let’s say the post is not " Hey I’m drunk and driving to the beach" Instead it’s a picture of your friend and the gun he just used to rob someone and the money and the jewelry he got in the robbery - he should expect a visit from even the NYPD if someone tells them about the post.

Which QB was it? “Years ago”? Like, how many? Tarkenton years? Favre years? Culpepper years?

Anyhoo, yes, people get arrested for posting criminal acts on social media. It happened just this past August in North Carolina when this maniac posted on Youtube driving a Hellcat Challenger going 198mph.

Link: http://www.thedrive.com/news/22973/dodge-hellcat-driver-arrested-for-doing-198-mph-on-highway-posting-video-on-youtube

After trying to find any further information, my best guess is that you’re talking about Tommy Kramer. If so, atleast one article says the caller was anonymous- the results might have been different if it hadn’t been. I’m sure the police testified that they followed him for some short period of time (they had to - there’s no way they pulled him over at the very instant they first saw his car) and that “There was some swerving in the lanes”. I’m sure he was acquitted- but not so sure it was because the anonymous call plus the swerving wasn’t reason enough to test him.It’s very possible, especially back then that he would have been acquitted even with the test results.

Right. Pretty much, Police can’t arrest based just on a Facebook post. It can lead to a investigation and could be evidence, of course.

There’s a reason nolo.com says “most states”. In some states, a police officer can indeed arrest someone for an misdemeanor that was not committed in his or her presence.
My state is one of them- it’s one of the differences between police officers and peace officers