Nothing is Private in the World of Digital Evidence

An innocuous Facebook posting, perhaps a photo on Instagram taken by a friend at your not so finest moment – Like it or not, your words and likeness may be indelibly etched in history as digital evidence.

Crimes are often proven, alibis are often dispelled, and criminal defendants’ lacks of knowledge are often laughed at in state and federal courtrooms around the country by virtue of internet postings. People are sometimes careless, and sometimes just dumb, about what they put out for the world to see, upon the misguided belief that their information is private. Profiles and accounts can be protected, but the reality is that unless you really know what you are doing, that most of these protections are like installing a security a door on your house, but leaving it wide open for the world to walk inside.

High school students applying for college face this same dilemma. Few realize that admissions counselor at major universities. CNN recently reported that “27% of admissions officers checked Google and 26% looked on Facebook as part of their applicant-review process.”

The reality, though, is that only some criminal defense lawyers know this. I make it a habit to use the internet to dig up impeachment material on witnesses who are testifying in my cases. This includes doing some background on my own witnesses in the event that they have baggage for which I will have to do damage control. It would be foolish to think that prosecutors aren’t doing the same thing, though only a handful actually do.

This digging, if you would, has paid dividends for me in representing clients charged in Arizona state and federal courts with serious crimes such as conspiracy to distribute marijuana, money laundering, embezzlement, and other serious white collar crimes – just to name a few. It has also assisted in discovering that another attorney was potentially committing a fraud upon the court (lying to the judge) by conjuring up a false excuse as to why court ordered deadlines were not followed. Unfortunately, for them, the digital evidence didn’t lie. (Guess who in Phoenix might be looking for criminal defense attorney to represent them).

As a final note, I fully expect someone to find this article and bring it up in one of my cases. After all, nothing is private. For more information about me or my firm, call today!

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