Cell phones, text messages, and Facebook posts that make it so easy to stay connected have become fertile ground for investigators when a crime occurs, says the Newark Star-Ledger. A cell phone's texts, e-mails, Internet browsing history and photographs, and messages on Twitter, MySpace and other social media sites are all available to law enforcement looking for evidence to bolster a case. As instant communication becomes more intertwined in daily life, the devices delivering these messages become more critical for police and prosecutors.
“Technology is so powerful,” said Scott Burns of the National District Attorneys Association. “I don't think most Americans, especially the younger generations, appreciate that all that digital evidence is available to law enforcement. When its involved in a criminal case, it's evidence.” In the case of five Old Bridge, N.J., teens charged with murder, the text messages they shared are being used as evidence of their state of mind. After allegedly attacking a computer scientist walking with his family, two of the teens charged with murder apparently boasted to each other about what had just happened. “All of the means of electronic communication are so prevalent, it's a no-brainer. Why wouldn't law enforcement look there,' said Stephen Cribari, professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. “Digital evidence used to be thought of as evidence on a computer hard drive. We forget that a cell phone is a computer.”