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Legal Issue – YouTube Solving Court Cases

Digital evidence is quickly becoming a good friend to authorities. From using bystanders’ footage for tracking criminals to vigilante journalism, YouTube is proving it’s more than just one of the most popular websites in the world – it can also be a detective’s primary evidence source. Here are two interesting cases in which digital evidence is the primary factor:

United States v. Jeffries
After an unfavorable ruling in a custody suit, Franklin Jeffries wrote, recorded and posted a song on YouTube in which he made threats to kill the judge who made the ruling. Jeffries was soon after charged and convicted for violating a federal law that prohibits transmitting or communicating threats to injure another. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail, and appealed the decision based on the argument that Jeffries was venting his opinions, and meant no harm. In March, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the conviction saying that the video was enough evidence of threat and intent.

Newark Intimidation Beating
In February, a video featuring a young man being stripped and beaten with a belt in Newark, NJ, was posted on YouTube and received 40,000 views before it was removed. Newark officials condemned the video and vowed to find the attackers. Three suspects were identified by the video and charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy and robbery. The suspects are awaiting trial.


This article can also be found in the ASPE-ROI  Mar/Apr newsletter. To sign up to receive newsletters or browse past issues please visit our newsletter page.

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