Facebook activity connects defendant and juror highlighting contempt of court
Facebook activity links For most of us, a chosen online social media channel is a way to reach out to friends and family, befriend others, and sometimes bond with absolute strangers. Whatever your reason is, one thing that many forget or probably haven’t thought enough about is the fact that you are accountable for any online activity. As such, you may choose to accept someone’s friendship, and then go on to ‘unfriend’ them, but even that activity stays on record and can be traced if the need arises. Obviously this may not be the case in most instances because not all of us have a record with the police but if that were the case investigation can reveal many a skeleton in the closet.
In what can be looked upon as a new beginning, here’s probably the first contempt of court prosecution involving the web in the UK. It’s a year old chat transcript that pins both juror and defendant against the wall in this one. Defendant Jamie Sewart, involved in a multimillion-dollar drugs case made contact with juror Joanna Fraill. The defendant took a step forward over Facebook and knowing friended the juror knowing very well how closely she was related.
Both, juror and defendant are being held for contempt of court and sentences will be read out on Thursday, and juror Joanna Fraill could face up to two years of imprisonment. Obviously anyone who has been part o a jury would understand the responsibility that comes with such a position, leave alone discussing court case details via chat on Facebook. This isn’t so much a platform to discuss personal ethics but this case study brings to the spotlight consequences of our actions.
We are each responsible for our online activity
However much online social media has been berated at some fronts for its destructive ways, at the end of the day, it’s a huge vault of data. Obviously any information we choose to make public becomes our own responsibility and the same holds true for any personal messages we send, or chat. One truth is that people love Facebook chat despite its slow growth quite simply because you don’t have to deal with a chat log that sits in your inbox. It’s a convenient methodology that works for many because you don’t have to sit and clear chat history.
Your status updates, tweets and chat logs are proof of what you’ve been up to
On a personal level it works well, especially if there’s something you want to keep hidden from a partner, it’s almost as though the chat ever happened. The good news however is this data log may not be visible to you but can be retrieved if the situation demands. That doesn’t mean you can write in to Facebook asking for a copy of a chat log between two individuals just because you think they have been talking behind your back. Rather, if there’s a criminal case or any matter that is being investigated by the police, and if the need arises, they can retrieve records of your online activity and this includes mails, tweets, and status updates too. At the end of the day, you can hide and erase your online activity but once that information has been sent out, there’s going to be a record for it.