With the development of smart phones and digital technology the criminal courts have witnessed a rise in mobile forensic evidence to substantiate a case against the defendant. Whilst the utilisation of telephone data has been welcomed by the criminal court there are a number of practical implications to consider when relying upon digital evidence.
Mobile phones can be used to recover substantial information crucial in criminal trials, especially when demonstrating patterns of behaviour or proof of connection between the parties in question. The use of text messages and phone calls in particular is one form of evidence that is becoming increasingly relied upon in cases to establish a charge of conspiracy where there are multiple defendants facing criminal charges. Even a list of contacts saved to the defendant’s phone or SIM can provide incriminating evidence in preparing a case against the accused.
In fact mobile technology has become so advanced that cell site analysis can be used where questions of doubt arise over the location of the defendant at the time the crime was committed. Although this is not pin point accurate, demonstrating closeness to a crime scene is vital in disproving false alibis consequently undermining the defendant’s line of argument.
Whilst data from personal devices can indeed be used to build a case against the defence, in order to stand up in criminal court the prosecution must first verify the data. The criminal courts require the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the offence in question; presenting a call log alone will not be enough to secure a conviction. Evidence obtained from personal devices must be collected by an expert office that specialises in the retrieval of digital data in order to verify its accuracy.
This is particularly important when using site cell analysis as although it can trace the defendant’s movement to a certain degree, it cannot provide a specific geographical location.Similarly although call logs can be used to show lines of communication from various handsets there is no way to prove who was in possession of the device at the time of the call.
In any case in order for digital data to be used to its full effect in criminal proceedings expert verification is key. Here at Farleys our award winning criminal law team have a wealth of experience across the full spectrum of criminal law. Our specialist solicitors can provide advice and representation 24 hours a day 7 days a week. For 24 hours advice via our emergency crime line call 01254 606050. Alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.