New Advice For Clients
It's customary for criminal defense lawyers to tell new clients, "Don't do anything stupid while these charges are pending." The advice isn't always heeded. Now it seems necessary to be more specific: "If you're going to do something stupid, don't publicize it on your MySpace or Facebook page."
Two weeks after Joshua Lipton was charged in a drunken driving crash that seriously injured a woman, the 20-year-old college junior attended a Halloween party dressed as a prisoner. Pictures from the party showed him in a black-and-white striped shirt and an orange jumpsuit labeled "Jail Bird."
In the age of the Internet, it might not be hard to guess what happened to those pictures: Someone posted them on the social networking site Facebook. And that offered remarkable evidence for Jay Sullivan, the prosecutor handling Lipton's drunken-driving case.
Sullivan used the pictures to paint Lipton as an unrepentant partier who lived it up while his victim recovered in the hospital. A judge agreed, calling the pictures depraved when sentencing Lipton to two years in prison.
Of course, social networking sites hold some benefit for defense lawyers as well. Young people who claim to be distraught victims of crimes have trouble explaining why they're posting pictures of their drunken parties, taken just days after they were supposedly traumatized by a criminal act. It's great evidence when you find it, and it's surprising how often you do.
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