With the growing crime rates involving mobile devices and other gadgets, it is an increasing concern for law agencies to consider digital evidence.
However, validating digital evidence in court is easier said than done.
For instance, these pieces of evidence can be easily tampered with and modified. And this could leave the case vulnerable.
So, what are the prerequisites for admissing digital evidence in the courtroom? And what does it take to validate that evidence?
Keep reading to find out.
Phase 1 – Assessment
The first phase in digital evidence submission is the ASSESSMENT.
Ideally, in this phase, the courts determine the authorized legal procedure used for extracting the evidence. For instance, the mobile device forensics tool used should be legally compliant with federal and state laws.
Typically, the legal authorizations would include a search warrant, court order, or subpoena.
Besides, the relevance of the evidence is also evaluated in this phase. Forensic relevance explores whether the accused is related to the subject device.
Phase 2 – Consideration
This is the most critical phase in digital evidence submission. Typically, the legitimacy of the evidence is explored in the phase.
The evidence sourcing should be linear and should not involve any intermediaries. In other words, there should be no other extraction methods involved than only one.
For instance, if the forensics procedure followed would involve repeatedly changing hands between the keeper, it may question the integrity of the evidence. The defense may argue that the evidence has been tampered with while changing hands.
Besides, digital forensics experts are also required to testify their findings in court. And, notably, the qualification of the forensics expert is also evaluated while testifying.
Phase 3 – Determination
Lastly, the courts need to determine whether the evidence makes a difference to the case or not. In other words, it is validated in the courtroom.
To be accepted as valid evidence in proving a crime, the procedure, testimonies, forensic methods, and expert qualifications – all come into play.
However, it is noteworthy that the results found in the forensics would largely determine its validity. In most cases, the forensics report is mandatory to be presented in an unbiased way. It needs not be pointing out the accused. But simply put the factual information forth.
It is then up to the court or the jury to determine if the evidence would prove to be a strong make-point in the case or not. And accordingly, they may rule their judgment.
Although digital forensics is a critical part of modern-day investigations it is still finding its place in the mainstream legal framework.
Not to mention, the validity and integrity of the evidence are one of the biggest concerns for the investigating agencies.
Nonetheless, it is slowly being refined and more robust tools and forensic procedures are being explored. It won’t be long before we see a major overhaul in legal establishments and digital forensics.
Let us know what you think about the submission process of digital evidence in the comments section below.