Detectives investigating a recent burglary of a Southern California church spotted a cell phone on the scene. Looking through the phone, the detectives found a photo someone had taken of himself. According to news sources, the police showed this "selfie" to local residents, who recognized the man in it. He has since been arrested and has also been tied to additional burglaries; two other people have been arrested as well.
This case highlights the role of technology as clues in criminal cases. So much of what we do these days depends on computing devices, whether they're desktop PCs, tablets, or phones. Our activities also leave an imprint online, in emails, social media posts, chat room comments, and Internet searches.
Sometimes criminals are caught because of their carelessness with technology. As in this case, they may accidentally leave some kind of digital evidence at the crime scene; computing devices can contain not only photos but also many other identifiers, including full names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails that might also disclose accomplices to the crime. Other times, criminals leave a digital trail of their activities online and on multiple devices.
Given how much information can be contained in a computing device, law enforcement officers often want to get their hands on all of that data. The following are some legal issues to consider when it comes to digital evidence:
- Do police have the right to obtain a particular piece of digital evidence and use it to charge you with a crime? Generally, a search warrant would be needed before police can seize and study the contents of a computing device and then use the evidence to bring charges against you.
- Could the evidence they find actually be proof that you perpetrated a crime? For instance, if someone else was conducting criminal activities on your computing device, you could be on the hook for it and would need strong legal representation to prove your innocence.
- Could the digital evidence be ambiguous? What investigators find on your computing device may cast some suspicion on you, but may ultimately not be enough to help prove your guilt in court.
Many crimes these days involves some kind of digital evidence. When you contact us to discuss your case and enlist our assistance, we will carefully review the different types of evidence that may come into play in your case and help you craft the strongest possible defense.
If you or a loved one has been arrested in the cities of Murrieta, Temecula, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Corona or Riverside, call us right away for a free consultation. Since 1999, we have represented numerous individuals who were facing criminal charges, including DUI and juvenile matters. We can help!