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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Be Careful What You Tweet - It Can Be Used Against You

The BBC reports on a recent case from Norwich.  There, Emma Way was found guilty of failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident after she collided with a cyclist, knocking him off his bike and causing him to sustain minor injuries.

While the prosecutor described the case as a typical traffic accident, the case gained notoriety from what Way did after the accident. After she drove on, she went home and tweeted:

Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way - he doesn't even pay road tax! #Bloodycyclists."

This type of evidence would certainly be admissible in U.S. courts under Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(A) because would it is Way's own statement and was offered against her.  With prosecutors and investigators increasingly using social media to solve and prosecute crimes, Way's tweet -- or writing a tweet or Facebook status update like it -- is one of the dumbest things that somebody could do after committing a crime.  Even if somebody who commits a crime plans to confess, posting the confession online, effectively making it available for police and prosecutors to find, removes most, if not all, leverage that the defendant may have in later plea negotiations.

But it looks like Way is going to get out of this situation just fine.  The BBC's report concludes:
Way refused to comment as she left court, saying she had signed an exclusive television deal.

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