In today’s world, key evidence needed in criminal and civil proceedings exists in the digital world and may be a composite of pictures, texts, and third-party statements. A key recent ruling of the Indiana Court of Appeals makes clear the Rules of Evidence and authentication of such as true cannot be objectionable to thwart justice.
This blog post covers some of the key points of that case and the care that everyone should exercise using social media. The key point is if you do not want it used against you in any way, do not post it.
In the M.T. case1, which is a juvenile delinquency case (a criminal case except the person was a minor), the State admitted Facebook conversations into evidence about a child’s postings about planning a school shooting. These were objected to as hearsay but the trial court judge allowed their admission and adjudicated the child as a delinquent.
On appeal, M.T. argued Facebook conversations should not have been admitted, but the Court disagreed. It found first that M.T. had admitted to law enforcement officers that he had engaged in conversations that were on Facebook about shooting up the school.
In addition, consistent with medical records, for instance, they may have hearsay statements contained therein, the Court of Appeals rejected M.T.’s argument because the records contained an affidavit from Facebook’s authorized records custodian who testified the records were made and kept by Facebook’s automated systems at or near the time posted.
From a parent and criminal defense standpoint, there are several important learning points in this case. Do not post anything that you would not want the world to see. Second, do not waive your right to counsel if questioned by police. Finally, remember technical arguments, such as hearsay will not thwart justice.
This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handles criminal cases (and civil litigation) throughout the state of Indiana. This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as specific legal advice. It is an advertisement.