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Registered: 12/30/02
Posts: 3,881
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What can LEO do with my posts and pictures?
    #2683565 - 05/15/04 09:06 PM (16 years, 9 months ago)

Snipped from overgrow.


Let's talk about your gallery and its use as evidence against you

Those of you wondering what use may be made of the photos in your gallery may be interested in this. I have mentioned it briefly in the past, but recently one of our impaired accident cases involving photographs had me scrambling to update myself on the law regarding digital photography.

As for Canada and the US, there appears to be little difference.

The main issue, as it has been for many years, is that the photographs must be authenticated by the person who took them. Either by way of a certificate / affidavit or viva voce testimony.

Now, since you (assuming the worst) have been busted and the cops have discovered your computer and all your lovely Overgrow pics, you will be thinking..."ooh man, I'm fucked now." Not so.

Since you cannot be compelled to testify against yourself, there can be no way to verify who took the pictures, and whether or not they have been altered in any way. They are hearsay and generally not admissible as evidence.

Pictures of this nature can go in as evidence if 1) both parties agree to it. 2) you testify as to their authenticity.

I doubt either of the above is likely to happen.

Below is an interesting article I found while researching the US end of the situation.

J. Christopher Nosher

Technological advances in methods of
capturing evidence often carry with them
special evidentiary questions, as the legal
system strains to keep up with the rapid
progress of science. Such conflict is readily
apparent in the developing issue of the use
of digital cameras in litigation. While digital
cameras represent the ultimate in
photographic technology, they present
significant problems given the relative ease
of manipulation of the images they create.
Nevertheless, the advantages of digital
photography outweigh such problems, so
long as simple procedures to protect the
integrity of digital images are followed.
Furthermore, the same framework used by
courts in establishing the authenticity of
evidence of all other types is adequate to
address the issues presented by the digital
Digital cameras utilize a charged
coupled device (CCD) and a diskette or flash
memory card in place of the film used in
conventional cameras. Digital images are
made up of ??pixels?? stored on rectangular
grids called bitmaps, which together make
up a digital photograph. See Keane,
Prestidigitalization: Magic, Evidence and
Ethics in Forensic Digital Photography, 25
Ohio N.U.L. Rev. 585 (1999). These images
can then be stored on computer hard drives,
floppy diskettes or compact discs. Once on
a computer, the images are easily
manipulated using software such as Adobe
Photoshop, Corel Photo-Paint or other
similar software. Operations from
adjustment of brightness and contrast to
wholesale removal or addition of subjects
can be performed with the click of a mouse.
It is the ease with which digital images may
be altered, and the degree to which such
alterations can often be imperceptible, that
lead to concerns regarding the admissibility
of such images at trial.
Although digital cameras have been
available for several years, there is little case
law dealing directly with the admissibility
of the images they generate. The Georgia
Supreme Court recently addressed this issue
in Almond v. The State, 553 S.E.2d 803 (Ga.
2001). In that case, the court stated that
where digital images were properly
??authenticated ?? as fair and truthful
representations of what they purported to
depict,?? they constituted admissible
evidence. Id. at 805. Importantly, the court
also stated that ??[w]e are aware of no
authority, and appellant cites none, for the
proposition that the procedure for admitting
pictures should be any different when they
were taken by a digital camera.?? Id. The
court pointed out that videotapes were
admissible on the same grounds and subject
to the same limitations as photographs.
As noted by the Almond court, the use
of digital photography in documenting
evidence can be likened to the use of video
recording, which was met with similar
concerns when it first began appearing in
courtrooms. Currently, the Virginia courts
treat video recordings no differently than
photographs from an evidentiary standpoint.
See Brooks v. Commonwealth, 424 S.E.2d
566, 569 (Va. Ct. App. 1992) (stating that
the admissibility of a videotape, like that of
a photograph, rests within the sound
discretion of the trial court). See also Wilson
v. Commonwealth, 511 S.E.2d 426 (Va. Ct.
App. 1999) (holding that properly
authenticated videotapes are admissible to
the same extent as photographs). The
authentication of video recordings is no
different from that of still photos, requiring
a foundation that establishes the accuracy
of the process used to produce the
photograph or videotape. Id.
In State v. Hayden, a case dealing
indirectly with the use of digital
photography, the Washington Court of
Appeals addressed the use of digital imaging
for the purposes of extracting latent
fingerprints. State v. Hayden, 950 P.2d 1024
(Wash. Ct. App. 1998). The court noted that
??[c]ertainly digital photography is not a novel
process. Neither is the use of computer
software to enhance images. It is only the
forensic use of these tools that is relatively
new.?? Id. at 1027. In affirming the decision
of the trial court to admit the digital imaging,
the court noted that the expert offering the
evidence testified that he used software
which prevented altering, enhancing or
destroying the original image. Id. at 1028.
The true concern regarding the use of
digital cameras in litigation seems to involve
not the novelty of technology used to
capture images or the accuracy of the images
captured, but rather the ease with which
digital images can be manipulated using
easily obtainable software. While it is
possible to enhance or alter digital
photographs, it should be noted that any
form of physical evidence can be
manipulated. Even within the photographic
world, the ability to alter the contents of an
image is not unique to digital technology.
To the contrary, traditional film photographs
can be (and have been for years) manipulated
using techniques such as ??dodging?? and
??burning?? (the use of over or under-exposure
of areas of a photograph in order to alter
the image) or the superimposing of images
from one photograph upon another. See
Keane at 586, 591.
In order to combat the possible
perception by the courts that images
captured by digital cameras are somehow
less trustworthy than those generated by
their film cousins, every effort should be
made to document the authenticity of digital
images. As with any form of evidence,
careful effort must be made to ensure that
the process of gathering digital images is
documented and overseen. A detailed
record of the time, location and subject of
the photograph, as well as any witnesses to
its taking, should be created. Additionally,
the original memory card or diskette should
be labeled and retained. Digital
enhancement, even adjustments as limited
as brightness or contrast of the image,
should be avoided. In the end, so long as
the trial court can be convinced that the
digital images are true and accurate
representations of the subject material that
they purport to portray, such evidence
should be well-received. Given the many
positive attributes of digital cameras, from
ease of use and immediacy of image viewing
to the simple transfer of their images
throughout a variety of media, the utility of
these cameras far outweighs any burden
they carry from an evidentiary standpoint.
This is particularly the case when simple
procedures to assure the integrity of digital
images are followed.

Fold for The Shroomery!

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Registered: 03/31/04
Posts: 109
Last seen: 16 years, 17 days
Re: What can LEO do with my posts and pictures? [Re: daba]
    #2692980 - 05/17/04 09:32 PM (16 years, 9 months ago)

Very informative. Thanks!

"Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes." -Abraham Lincoln

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 User Gallery

Registered: 02/07/04
Posts: 1,046
Last seen: 10 years, 7 months
Re: What can LEO do with my posts and pictures? [Re: daba]
    #2766198 - 06/05/04 02:58 PM (16 years, 8 months ago)

I wouldn't put too much faith in that. I was on a jury last year involving statutury(sp?) rape and child pornography. The man had pictures of his girlfriend's daughter, naked, on his computer. There was no definitive proof that the pictures were in fact taken by him, but considering all the testimony ,however, we were convinced beyond reasonable doubt that he did. If he had a better lawyer, things may have turned out differently and the pics may never have been entered into evidence but they were.


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Reality isRelative

Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 2,467
Last seen: 9 years, 9 months
Re: What can LEO do with my posts and pictures? [Re: mockeylock]
    #2783301 - 06/11/04 12:14 AM (16 years, 8 months ago)

i would say the cases are a little different...a naked girl is a lot more recognizable and easy to positively id and connect to a defendant than a pot plant....and child pornography is illegal, pictures of marijuana plants are not (thank god).


Without love in the dream
It will never come true

Edited by Hooty (06/11/04 12:14 AM)

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