Residential Burglary charges were filed last week against a Minnesota man. This would hardly be worthy of international attention, but for the way in which the burglar was caught. Twenty-Six year old Nicholas Wig broke into a home and used the victim's computer to log into his own FaceBook account! Not only was Wig kind enough to not steal the computer, he was also foolish enough to leave behind his digital fingerprints. He even failed to log out of his FaceBook account before leaving the scene. New technologies are making it easier to solve crimes, but sometimes the criminals themselves play a greater role in their downfall than any technology.
When the shocked burglary victim was relieved to see his computer had not been stolen, but he must have been utterly astonished to see Wig's FaceBook page open on his computer. In an effort to track down the bumbling burglar, the victim posted on Wig's FaceBook page that he had just been burglarized by Wig. Strangely enough, Wig texted the victim, and agreed to return to the home in order to retrieve his own clothes, which he, for some reason, had left behind. Apparently, Wig did not stop to think that there may be some police officers to greet him upon his return.
Obviously, Wig has no defense he could assert at trial, but his lawyer may actually have some mitigation arguments with respect to sentencing. Clearly, Wig displayed absolutely no criminal sophistication. A lack of criminal sophistication is generally a mitigating factor, while a high degree of criminal sophistication is an aggravating factor, as such a defendant is potentially far more dangerous. It is a safe bet that drugs or alcohol abuse and/ or mental illness played a role in Wig's behavior, and these would both be considered mitigating factors. If Wig was not intoxicated or mentally ill, then he most certainly has a very low IQ, which is also a mitigating factor.
News reports indicate that Mr. Wig faces up to 10 years in prison under Minnesota law, which is far more lenient than the maximum Pennsylvania penalty for the same offense. In Pennsylvania, Wig would face up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/Theft-and-Property-Crimes.shtml