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[IDIOT] Facebook, MySpace photos come back to haunt pair of drunk drivers

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by Nice Rollin, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. Nice Rollin

    Nice Rollin Contributing Member

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    Facebook, MySpace photos come back to haunt pair of drunk drivers

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    PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Two weeks after Joshua Lipton was charged in a drunk driving crash that seriously injured a woman, the 20-year-old college junior attended a Halloween party dressed as a prisoner. Pictures from the party showed him in a black-and-white striped shirt and an orange jumpsuit labelled "Jail Bird."

    In the age of the Internet, it might not be hard to guess what happened to those pictures: Someone posted them on the social networking site Facebook. And that offered remarkable evidence for Jay Sullivan, the prosecutor handling Lipton's drunken-driving case.

    Sullivan used the pictures to paint Lipton as an unrepentant partier who lived it up while his victim recovered in the hospital. A judge agreed, calling the pictures depraved when sentencing Lipton to two years in prison.

    Online hangouts such as Facebook and MySpace have offered crime-solving help to detectives and become a resource for employers vetting job applicants. Now the sites are proving fruitful for prosecutors, who have used damaging Internet photos of defendants to cast doubt on their character during sentencing hearings and argue for harsher punishment.

    "Social networking sites are just another way that people say things or do things that come back and haunt them," said Phil Malone, director of the cyberlaw clinic at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "The things that people say online or leave online are pretty permanent."

    The pictures, when shown at sentencing, not only embarrass defendants but also can make it harder for them to convince a judge that they're remorseful or that their drunken behaviour was an aberration. (Of course, the sites are also valuable for defence lawyers looking to dig up dirt to undercut the credibility of a star prosecution witness.)

    Prosecutors don't appear to be scouring networking sites while preparing for every sentencing, even though telling photos of criminal defendants are sometimes available in plain sight and accessible under a person's real name. But in cases where they've had reason to suspect incriminating pictures online, or have been tipped off to a particular person's MySpace or Facebook page, the sites have yielded critical character evidence.

    "It's not possible to do it in every case," said Darryl Perlin, a senior prosecutor in Santa Barbara County, Calif. "But certain cases, it does become relevant."

    Perlin said he was willing to recommend probation for Lara Buys for a drunk driving crash that killed her passenger last year - until he thought to check her MySpace page while preparing for sentencing.

    The page featured photos of Buys - taken after the crash but before sentencing - holding a glass of wine as well as joking comments about drinking. Perlin used the photos to argue for a jail sentence instead of probation, and Buys, then 22, got two years in prison.

    "Pending sentencing, you should be going to (Alcoholics Anonymous), you should be in therapy, you should be in a program to learn to deal with drinking and driving," Perlin said. "She was doing nothing other than having a good old time."

    Rhode Island prosecutors say Lipton was drunk and speeding near his school, Bryant University in Smithfield, in October 2006 when he triggered a three-car collision that left 20-year-old Jade Combies hospitalized for weeks.

    Sullivan, the prosecutor, said another victim of the crash gave him copies of photographs from Lipton's Facebook page that were posted after the collision. Sullivan assembled the pictures - which were posted by someone else but accessible on Lipton's page - into a PowerPoint presentation at sentencing.

    One image shows a smiling Lipton at the Halloween party, clutching cans of the energy drink Red Bull with his arm draped around a young woman in a sorority T-shirt. Above it, Sullivan rhetorically wrote, "Remorseful?"

    Superior Court Judge Daniel Procaccini said the prosecutor's slide show influenced his decision to sentence Lipton.

    "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," the judge said in an interview.

    Kevin Bristow, Lipton's attorney, said the photos didn't accurately reflect his client's character or level of remorse, and made it more likely he'd get prison over probation.

    "The pictures showed a kid who didn't know what to do two weeks after this accident," Bristow said, adding that Lipton wrote apologetic letters to the victim and her family and was so upset that he left college. "He didn't know how to react."

    Still, Bristow uses the incident as an example to his teenage children to watch what they post online
     
  2. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Contributing Member

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  3. Shaud

    Shaud Member

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  4. TECH

    TECH Contributing Member

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    Drunk drivers, especially who cause an accident, injury or not, deserve some jail time, imo.
    People need to be responsible with their freedom.
     
  5. Fatty FatBastard

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    Oddly enough, I agree.
     
  6. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    When are people going to learn that Myspace and Facebook aren't private and that anything you post there is pretty much out there for the whole world to see.
     
  7. TECH

    TECH Contributing Member

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    I'm honored. :D
     
  8. TECH

    TECH Contributing Member

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    Many of those people enjoy showing off to the world, and they don't think about what they do, which this guy is guilty of.
     
  9. Kam

    Kam Contributing Member

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    thats why i dont post too much crap on my online social network places.


    I kinda used myspace when i was a juror, but I got her off, because I'm nice.
     
  10. JD2010

    JD2010 Member

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    I personally think that mar1juana should be legalized and if anything, alcohol should be illegal.

    You never hear stories about "high driver kills.....",
    "..... dies from mar1juana overdose"
     
  11. Nice Rollin

    Nice Rollin Contributing Member

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    weed can mess up you're driving also. "the reason coke and weed isnt legal in America, is because the best coke and weed aint made in america"
     
  12. bladeage

    bladeage Contributing Member

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    The best beer isn't made in America either.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Nice Rollin

    Nice Rollin Contributing Member

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    actually, it is. Hawaii counts as America


    [​IMG]
     
  14. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    You can always tell the difference between drivers on coke and drivers on weed:

    Drivers on coke are going 120mph and talking to the upholstery.
    Drivers on weed are going 20mph and trying to eat the upholstery.

    :D
     

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