by Gopalan on  July 20, 2008 at 3:28 PM Lifestyle News
 Think Before Posting Pictures on Social Networking Sites, Law is Watching!
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 Smithfield, 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 driving.

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 Bird."

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 reports.

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 Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "The things that people say online or leave online are pretty permanent."

Source: Medindia

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