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Social Network Sites Used Against Defendants

Posting on social network sites, like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter can be extremely damaging to a defendant's case. In the past two years, in numerous cases, as a criminal defense attorney, I have seen prosecutors use defendants' posts against them. Sometimes it's to prove intent, fault, or some other element of the crime. Increasingly prosecutors are reviewing images posted on Facebook and MySpace to determine degree of remorse of DUI defendants. Prosecutors are using this new tool when seeking penalties in drunk driving cases.

For example, 22 year old Lara Buys, was driving under the influence when she was involved in an accident that killed her passenger. The prosecutor was willing to recommend probation in the case until he checked Buys' MySpace page and saw images posted after the accident showing Buys with a glass of wine. In addition, there were comments joking about drinking. The images depicted Buys as having a good time rather than trying to deal with issues of DUI. Instead of probation, Buys received a two-year jail sentence. In another case, Jessica Binkerd, posted photos taken after an alcohol related wreck, showing Binkerd drinking and providing tequila shots. Binkerd was sentenced to 5 years in jail. Apparently, she didn't take down the posts even after her lawyer advised her to do so.

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