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Criminal defense in the age of social media, P.2

In our previous post, we spoke a bit about the case of a woman arrested for drunken driving after police were alerted to her operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated through an app known as Periscope. In our last post, we posed several questions about the admissibility of the streaming video in a criminal case.

In this case, officers were actually able to locate the woman and witness her hitting a curb and witness her condition at the time of the crash. Presumably, officers were able to gather sufficient evidence to build a case from what they saw. Sources say she failed Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and smelled of alcohol. But what about the live-streaming video footage? Could it be used to augment a DUI case or to support a case on its own? 

It turns out that the use of social media evidence in criminal cases is an increasingly important issue, and one with which prosecutors across the country have been grappling in recent years. Although social media is treated the same way as any other evidence, including electronically stored information, there are unique characteristics of social media which can create barriers to admissibility. For one thing, social media data can, in some cases, be manipulated and falsified, and it is important that social media evidence is properly authenticated.

In many cases, courts will admit social media evidence without giving a great deal of consideration to is authenticity, leaving any such concerns for the jury to consider. In addition to potential issues with the admissibility of social media evidence, there are potential privacy issues that can come into play. In our next post, we’ll look at this issue. 

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