People have been taking photos and videos on their cell phones since the 1990s, mostly for sharing fun and making memories. Cell phones today continuously play larger roles in daily life, and can even help people capture crimes in pictures or videos in an instant. If you realize you are witnessing a potential crime in St. Petersburg, likely your cell phone will be more readily available than a full-size camera. People are starting to grasp the significance of how they can help assist others in a moment of need by using cell phone pictures and footage as evidence.
Assault on Elderly Man; Use of Cell Phones as Evidence
On October 25, 2016, in Winter Haven, Florida, a 90-year-old man was backing out from his parking space in a Publix lot at about 4:50 in the afternoon. A black four-door vehicle was driving in the parking lot, in the wrong lane. The 90-year-old victim had looked in both directions to ensure it was safe for him to back out of his parking space, when, BAM! The black vehicle (which may have been a Kia) slammed into him. Both drivers got out of their cars and proceeded to yell and curse at each other. There was also a passenger in the black vehicle, who got out of the car and was yelling as well, when, all of a sudden, one of the occupants of the black vehicle hit the 90-year-old man so hard it knocked him unconscious.
It was reported that several people were in the vicinity during this time, and one witness even tried to stop the occupants of the black vehicle from speeding off after the assault, but was unable to do so. Police asked for the public’s help to identify the occupants of the black vehicle. It is thought that at least one person might have taken a video of the incident. This is where everyday citizens can step up and help solve cases like this, especially when there is unnecessary brutality involved. With that being said, it is also important to keep calm and quiet, trying to take pictures or video unobtrusively, as no one would want an innocent bystander to get hurt because they were trying to record an event. Use common sense and, if you are witness to an incident, safely take pictures or a video that could be useful later. Don’t hesitate to use the smart technology on hand to help another.
Importantly, for intentional acts, such as assault and battery, the defendant may be open to punitive damages without caps and cannot simply avoid the judgment by declaring bankruptcy.
Cell Phone Evidence in Court
Photographs and videos have become two of the most effective pieces of evidence that can be presented in court. In fact, in car accidents and many other types of accidents, it is unusual NOT to have photos or videos presented as evidence. Of course, before either photos or videos from a cell phone can be entered as evidence, they must pass the authentication test. To determine whether the photo or video is admissible, or inadmissible, in court, several questions will be asked:
• Does the photo or video accurately represent the subject?
• Does the photo or video fairly represent the subject?
• How relevant is the photo or video and how does that weigh against an undue prejudice on a party?
Photos and videos submitted as evidence could also raise challenges, due to the ease with which photos and videos can be altered. The angle and light in photos and videos could also be called into question to address the authenticity of the evidence. Many variables could come into play; however, it is still considered very helpful to have this kind of material available for use. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident or incident where cell phone photos and/or videos may have been taken, speak with a personal injury attorney about potential acceptance of that material as crucial evidence in your case.