The rise in social media sites such as Facebook and Myspace has been a boon for prosecutors, who are finding incriminating pictures on such sites – pictures which have been admitted as evidence in court, and used to increase penalties, sentences, and prison time!
That’s just what happened to Joshua Lipton, who was involved last year in a drunk driving incident last October. Two weeks after the incident – and before his court date – the 20-year-old Joshua Lipton attended a Halloween party, dressed in a bright orange prison jumpsuit, with the word “Jailbird” emblazoned across it.
Those pictures ended up on Facebook, and, according to news reports, the prosecutor in Lipton’s case used the pictures to “paint Lipton as an unrepentant partier who lived it up while his victim recovered in the hospital.”
The judge was moved by the pictures and the prosecutor’s arguement, calling the pictures “depraved”, and giving Lipton an up to 2-year prison sentence.
Explained the judge, in a later interview, “I did feel that gave me some indication of how that young man was feeling a short time after a near-fatal accident, that he thought it was appropriate to joke and mock about the possibility of going to prison.”
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Lara Buys got a 2-year prison sentence as well – even though her prosecutor was originally going to recommend probation for her drunk driving incident in which her passenger was killed – after the prosecuting attorney thought to check her MySpace page at the last minute. There he found pictures of Buys – taken after the incident – holding a glass of wine, along with “joking comments about drinking.”
And Jessica Binkerd went straight from four years of college, from which she graduated, to five years in prison, for her part in a fatal drunk driving crash, when prosecutors found her Facebook page – which her lawyer had advised her to take down – but she didn’t. Pictures of Binkerd with a beer, and wearing a t-shirt advertising tequila, and with a belt with plastic shot glasses attached to it, didn’t help her any. Said her lawyer, “When you take those pictures like that, it’s a hell of an impact.”
So what does all this mean? (Beside it being one more lesson to not drink and drive?)
The bottom line, says Kevin Bristow – Joshua Lipton’s attorney – is “If it shows up under your name you own it. and you better understand that people look for that stuff.”
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