Youngsters who make the virtual world their home had better
beware. Pictures they post of themselves could prove incriminating.
Joshua Lipton of Rhode Island
in the US
was involved in a car crash that seriously injured a woman.
He was drunk and speeding near his school, Bryant University
in October 2006 when he triggered a three-car collision. 20-year-old Jade
Combies had to be hospitalized for weeks. The boy was charged for drunken
A fortnight later, 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 labeled "Jail
Another image shows a smiling, 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?"
Evidently he was having a hearty laugh at his own
predicament. But neither the prosecutor nor the judge found it amusing.
The prosecutor who was directed to the party pictures was
irritated no end. He argued they showed
the boy was being unrepentant and having the time of his life when his victim
was recovering in the hospital.
Superior Court Judge Daniel Procaccini agreed, calling the
pictures depraved and sentenced Lipton to two years in prison.
Online hangouts like 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, news agency AP
There have been quite a few other instances wherein pictures
showing the youth involved as being insensitive have earned them prison terms
they might otherwise have escaped.
"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
Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
"The things that people say online or leave online are pretty permanent."