Facebook: The Social Evidence Network

Facebook: The Social Evidence Network

Facebook, a social media website, originally created to help individuals interact online has increasingly become a source of evidence in criminal sentencings. This recent technological development has forced prosecutors to confront ethical issues regarding both electronic communications and their evidentiary investigations.

Prosecutorial Obligations

  • ABA Crim. Just. Std., 3-1.2(c)– At all times “[t]he duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.”
  • ABA Crim. Just. Std., 3-3.11(c)– “A prosecutor should not intentionally avoid pursuit of evidence because he or she believes it will damage the prosecution’s case or aid the accused.”

Restrictions

  • ABA Crim. Just. Std., 3-3.1(c); See infra, Part II, for a discussion of the “knowledge” requirement- “A prosecutor should not knowingly use illegal means to obtain evidence or to employ or instruct or encourage others to use such means.”

These limitations are of great importance to prosecutors who may need to issue a “friend request” in order to gain access to evidence that may be contained on an individual’s Facebook page. The link below showcases how prosecutors have used Facebook in order to influence judges’ in their sentencing decisions in DUI cases.

 

Facebook influencing judges in DUI sentencing decisions