Facebook Alibi: Social Media as Defense Evidence
As discussed in FindLaw's Legally Weird, a teenager in New York recently was saved by a playful message posted on his Facebook page.
Rodney Bradford, 19, wrote that he was craving pancakes on his Facebook status. His Facebook evidence of an alibi prevented him from being charged with robbery.
Experts on social networking and the law look to this case as the first to use a Facebook post as alibi evidence instead of prosecutorial evidence.
This is a natural extension of the increased use of electronic evidence in both criminal and civil cases.
In 2006, Congress mandated changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, expanding the acceptance of electronically stored information as evidence. This applies to federal cases, but electronic evidence can also often come in handy at the state level.
To use online communications to strengthen your case, the first thing you will need is proof.
Authenticating your Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or whatever social networking account you have will be key.
First, you will need to verify that the account is yours -- likely through your user name and password.
You will also need to get proof from the social networking company that the posting came from a computer affiliated with you. This will involve requesting records from the social networking company.
Typically any activity occurring from your account or online profile will be have a time and date stamp.
It will be also important to gather evidence to show that you actually did the posting from the identified computer or electronic device at the recorded time. You will need be ready to counter arguments that someone else may have done it.
Remember, now that more people are revealing details about their private lives on line, social networking sites are providing much of the evidence often needed in legal battles.
In addition to being careful what you post, keep in mind that there might be times it could be used as evidence to save you.