Embarrassing Facebook, MySpace Posts Common In Criminal Cases


Embarrassing Facebook photos and regrettable MySpace statements are becoming commonplace in pre-sentencing reports and disposition hearings, Ken Strutin of the New York State Defenders Association writes in the New York Law Journal. At the same time, he says, defendants and their advocates are acknowledging the power of social media as a tool to generate mitigating evidence. While there seems to be an unending supply of negative postings in social networking profiles, there is also the potential for uncovering a humanizing portrait for the defense to present at sentencing.

Due process must temper the unchecked use of aggravating social media evidence at sentencing, as well as arraignment and other proceedings, Strutin says, adding that “these online forums are opening unprecedented opportunities for developing mitigating evidence that can provide courts with a fair picture of the person appearing for sentence.”

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