21 June 2012
Following Michael O' Floinn (PhD researcher) and Professor David Ormerod's work on the use of social networking sites in criminal investigations ((2011) 10 Crim. L.R. 766), this article addresses the problems related to the use of evidence from social network sites (SNSs) in criminal trials. The range of issues discussed include authentication, relevance, hearsay, confessions, bad character, unfairly obtained evidence, sexual history evidence, and identification evidence.
Examples of the authors' conclusions include: that questions of authenticity and relevance must be separated by courts; that the hearsay business exception may require re-consideration in light of its original purpose given its potential breadth when a SNS user can be a 'relevant person' under s. 117 CJA 2003; that the seemingly high probative value of evidence from SNSs is challenging the application of exclusionary rules relating to bad character and sexual history evidence; that current procedural safeguards are insufficient to deal with SNS identifications by witnesses of crimes.