The scope of social media is reaching further and further as more ways to communicate are introduced. One of the most popular features of late is live video. From Facebook Live to Periscope, live broadcasting is becoming the new normal. And because every user has access to it, anyone can now broadcast his or her own live event in a matter of seconds.
Social media has been a hot button in the criminal courtroom for sometime, but live video is adding another element. People are using live video streaming to broadcast police activities such as arrests, but they’re also using it before and/or after committing a crime, which begs the question, can it be used as evidence?
Recently, 19-year-old Tyrell “Hazel” Robinson was released from jail after being found not guilty of kidnapping a North Miami Beach university employee at gunpoint. Not long after his release, he picked up a friend, Christopher “Loko” Francois, for what was presumed to be a night of partying. Francois is said to have broadcast the two of them celebrating on Facebook. Hours later he was found fatally shot at a playground along with a 25-year-old woman from Las Vegas.
Robinson is now charged with the murder of Francois and the woman. The warrant for his arrest cites the Facebook Live video as one of the key pieces of evidence. When combined with additional video surveillance evidence, which ties together the car, clothing worn and more crucial details, investigators believe that they have enough compelling evidence to charge Robinson.
All over the country criminal cases are popping up due to live video evidence implicating the individuals. From a teen who used Periscope to broadcast the rape of her friend to a young woman who held a live broadcast while driving under the influence, to a man who confessed to critically injuring his wife and murdering his son on Facebook Live.
Video evidence such this can be hard to dispute, but it remains to be seen if any and all social media video broadcasts will be admitted into criminal cases. Just like all evidence submitted in a case, there are certain parameters that have to be followed to protect the rights of the individual being charged with the crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help individuals accused of a crime navigate complicated investigations and proceedings.