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Victim Credibility Can Be Undermined by "Facebook, MySpace and Twitter" Posts

Social networking sites provide valuable fodder for a criminal defense attorney to explore the veracity of a victim's statements.

There can be no doubt that social networking sites have taken off in recent years. A full 42.3% of the entire American population was using Facebook as of this month. While, almost 7% of this total population used Twitter. A large percentage of the U.S. Population uses at least one of several sites. An even larger percentage of teens and younger adults use them out of these percentages. With so many folks using "Facebook," "Twitter." or "MySpace," it is very conceivable that there will be statements made by victims and witnesses of sexual abuse crimes.

In a recent case, a Court held that statements made on a social networking site were not privileged. Further, that the opposing party could obtain the username, passwords, and other personal data necessary to access the other party's personal site. Because the sites do not provide any guarantee of confidentiality, the information posted on these sites by users is not confidential and is subject to disclosure. See MCMILLEN v. HUMMINGBIRD SPEEDWAY, INC., 2010 WL 4403285 (Pa.Com.Pl. 2010).

This means that a victim's statements to friends, family and other users on social networking sites may be subject to disclosure to the defense in sex abuse and other types of criminal cases. As we have noted on our website, there are inherent difficulties in the prosecution of a sexual abuse case without any corroborating physical evidence or a confession/admission of the accused. That is, the credibility of a victim can be severely tested when the have made prior inconsistent statements to others about the facts of the alleged incident on social networking sites. Social networking sites provide valuable information about a victim or witness's statements to others, how the felt, opinions about the accused, or why they even reported the incident in the first place.

If you have been or are facing an investigation on sexual abuse, rape, corruption of minors, or other serious sexual offense charges, you should contact experienced counsel immediately. It's important to get out ahead of the charges and begin your own investigation with an experienced attorney. You may call Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC at (717) 268-4287.