Using Social Network Status as Evidence in Trial

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April 29, 2010 – When someone asks how Web 2.0 or social media factors in to the operations of your law firm, you probably only think about their Internet marketing potential. However, as social networking becomes more of a mainstay in our everyday lives, it’s also becoming a tool for evidence in court cases.

One of the earlier cases of Facebook evidence comes from an October 2009 robbery in Brooklyn. Rodney Bradford was investigated as a suspect in the robbery of 2 men outside the housing complex where he lived. A previous indictment for a similar crime, plus victim identification from a police lineup seemed to seal his fate. During trial, his lawyer was able to provide evidence of a solid alibi: he was found to have been 12 miles away at his fathers’ house, updating his Facebook status. The charges were dismissed.

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A retailer in Roanoke, VA recently used Facebook to her advantage when she noticed missing inventory but couldn’t catch the culprit. Tips from other shoppers and residents led her to the open Facebook profile of a Radford University student. There she found pictures of the shoplifter and a friend posing in the stolen clothing items. After bringing the photos to the attention of police, the shoplifter was arrested and the incriminating photos became court evidence in her trial.

Attorneys are now learning to caution their clients about their social media habits when involved in legal proceedings.
Two family law attorneys in the Carolinas have both found help in their cases through investigation of spousal social media accounts. Pulling up photos showing adultery or evidence of threatening messages sent to accounts are often grounds for a quick settlement.

The attorneys are also quick to caution new clients about their own social networking use during divorce proceedings, even sometimes having them take down their profiles entirely to reduce the risk of self-incrimination. Communications transmitted through the Web can be subject to use in court as long as they were legally obtained.

With all the new social media websites and trends popping up each day, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of Web 2.0. We Do Web Content understands social media networking and can help your firm harness its power for your Internet marketing goals. For affordable, quality content exclusive to YOUR website, blog and clients, contact us today!  1-888-521-3880