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Can Social Media Be Used to Prove Crime/Accident/Injury?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

People post everything on social media these days, including their illegal activities. These people really don’t think about the consequences of their actions. Recently, a woman in Florida streamed live footage of her drunk driving adventure on Periscope. Needless to say, someone alerted the police to her activities and she was arrested while driving through town.

While that scenario ended with a clean arrest without the need to use the video as evidence, other cases may not be as clear. Can officers use what they find on social media as evidence in court? It depends. Courts have upheld and rejected social media as evidence in civil and criminal cases.

Good Lawyers Should Use Social Media

According to the American Bar Association, attorneys are expected to use all forms of technology, including social media, to thoroughly investigate and represent a client. They have to be careful, though. If they access private data, they may not be allowed to use it in court.

Regardless of whether the court will admit it into evidence, an attorney can often learn much about a case from social media accounts, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and more. If the parties in a case heavily use social media, keeping an updated record of interactions and posts can help.

Good Lawyers Should Also Understand the Complexity of Using Social Media Content

In some cases, an attorney may use social media content to prove a point in a case. He or she must demonstrate that the content is relevant and was produced by the individual in question, discuss potential issues regarding its probative value, show that the piece entered into evidence is part of the original post, and address concerns regarding hearsay.

In past cases, courts have not admitted social media content like a repost of a meme, but they have admitted Twitter posts as “state of mind” evidence as well as social media videos and pictures that can help police before, during, or after the commission of a crime. Every court is different, however, and the use for the content and the argument for admitting it into evidence will largely affect what can and can’t be used in a given case.

What This Means for Social Media Users

Anything you post publicly on a social media account is in the public forum. As long as an attorney can authenticate it, it’s as viable as a surveillance recording of you in any other public place. You’ve often heard that you should not post information on social media you wouldn’t want your boss seeing. The same is true for law enforcement. If you don’t want to face an investigation or have to explain your reason for posting the content, leave it off.

Furthermore, you agree to the terms of use when you use a social media platform. If you haven’t read the terms, you may agree for a platform to hold and use your information as it sees fit, i.e. handing it over as evidence in a case. There haven’t been enough cases and precedents set to confirm for certain what is and is not allowed, and new social media platforms change the game every time they come into the marketplace. Most of it may constitute evidence in certain situations.

Be careful with what you post on social media, but if you see illegal activity, potential evidence in your own case, or a potential admission of guilt for a crime, don’t hesitate to reach out to law enforcement or an attorney. The potential for using it as evidence or to help further an investigation could make a difference in the outcome of your case.

Posted by admin at 11:41 pm

The Dangers of Shallow Water Blackouts and Dry Drowning

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Harmful or deadly water incidents aren’t exclusive to inexperienced swimmers. Shallow water blackouts can have devastating consequences for professional and experienced swimmers. Furthermore, getting a victim on dry land doesn’t always eliminate the risk of drowning. Some victims may suffer from dry drowning immediately after rescue or as many as 24 hours later. Education is one of the best ways to prevent injury and death from these very real water dangers. Here’s what you need to know before swimming season or your next trip to the YMCA.

Shallow Water Blackouts

Shallow water blackouts occur when a swimmer can’t take a breath quickly enough. It often happens when swimmers hyperventilate before going under, presumably to get as much oxygen as possible into their systems. This creates low levels of carbon dioxide in the body. Carbon dioxide is the body’s natural signal to rise to the surface to get more air. When the levels are extremely low, a swimmer may not get the signal in time, triggering the symptoms of oxygen deprivation: the blackout.

Shallow water blackouts can happen to experienced swimmers, who lifeguards and friends may not watch as carefully. As soon as an individual blacks out, the body’s natural response is to take a breath. Under water, this means drowning. Swimmers experiencing a shallow water blackout need immediate assistance to survive. It can happen in as little as 2-3 feet of water and can kill in a matter of minutes.

Dry Drowning

Incidents of dry drowning are extremely rare, only causing around 1-2% of all drownings, but they’re also deadly and highly preventable. This type of drowning typically affects small children who have accidentally breathed in water while swimming. An individual may breathe in water while roughhousing in the pool or getting pulled off of his or her feet when a wave hits in the ocean. The person may get out of the water and appear okay at first. Water doesn’t actually enter the lungs in these cases. Instead, it causes vocal chords to close off airways, making breathing difficult.

Secondary drowning, a closely related condition, may not be immediately recognizable, either. It occurs when water does reach the lungs, creating a pulmonary edema and making breathing difficult. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, and chest pain. In many cases, the situation will resolve itself, but the occurrence can still be deadly. Have the symptoms checked out, particularly if an individual swam recently.

Preventing Shallow Water Blackouts and Dry Drowning

Safety advocacy groups stress the importance of swimming safety for a reason. While rare, these types of events do occur. They can be difficult to spot, but they are preventable. Anyone can suffer from the effects and even die by them. Prevent drowning incidents in the water and after leaving the water by:

  • Watching small children after they leave the water for signs of dry drowning
  • Using the buddy system while swimming, even as an adult, to reduce the risk of an unnoticed blackout
  • Taking a seminar or short class to learn how to breathe properly while swimming to reduce the risk of a blackout
  • Getting certified for CPR so you can help anyone in trouble if something happens at the pool or on the water
  • Avoid mixing alcohol and swimming, particularly if you plan to swim under water

Swimming offers excellent exercise, and many people look forward to getting back in the water after a long winter indoors. Understanding the full risks of swimming can help you keep yourself and your family safe. If you do experience a situation where someone could’ve been saved from a shallow water blackout or dry drowning but wasn’t because of a person’s negligence, give our Dallas office a call for a consultation today.

Posted by admin at 11:37 pm

A Guide to Safe Tailgating at Cowboys Stadium (AT&T Park)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Football season is more than a sport. It brings people together for good times at house parties and tailgating before games. People of all ages tailgate around the Cowboys Stadium, drinking a few beers and enjoying the game atmosphere. However, if you tailgate at the arena, you need to understand the rules so you don’t end up getting ticketed, kicked out, or banned. This is what you need to know to stay safe while tailgating.

Location, location, location

Tailgate only in designated areas. You can’t park your vehicle and tailgate just anywhere in Arlington. Only use designated spaces to set up camp up to five hours before kickoff. You’ll find spaces with grassy areas in Lots 4-7 and 10-15, all of which are first come, first serve. You may tailgate in private lots as long as you have permission from the owners. You’re tailgating if you have a chair, cooler, grill, or other items on the ground outside your vehicle, so make sure you’re in a designated space to do so.

Cleanliness

Throw away your trash and properly dispose of coals in clearly marked containers available in tailgating lots.

Do not

  • Fry foods or bring a deep fryer.
  • Use open flame.
  • Bring weapons or fireworks.
  • Campaign, protest, solicit, or distribute flyers or political material.
  • Save space for your buddies. Caravan and get there early if you have a group that wants to tailgate together.
  • Sell or advertise 3rd party products.
  • Play your music too loudly or through an amplifier.
  • Roughhouse, fight, or engage in otherwise disorderly conduct.

Food safety

One of the best parts about tailgating is eating grilled foods on game day. However, raw meat can present an issue if you’re pretty far away from a bathroom. Bring disposable utensils and prepare as much as you can at home so all you have to do is plop the meat on the grill when you get there. Foodborne illness can ruin a game day experience.

Fight fire with…

Take a fire extinguisher and a water bottle. Although open flame isn’t allowed, you could still run into trouble with your gas or charcoal grill. Keep a fire extinguisher handy to prevent any serious trouble, and use a water bottle to take care of occasional flare-ups.

Designated driver

Find your designated driver. If you’re tailgating, that means someone drove. Make sure you have a legal plan for getting back home after the game. You can use a portable breathalyzer to monitor your intoxication levels, but these devices may not always provide accurate readings. If you’ve had more than 1 or 2 beers, you may want to consider getting a designated driver to be safe. Ballgames present the perfect opportunity for cops to pick up drunk drivers. Don’t give them a reason to pull you over.

Take care of yourself

Hydrate, use the buddy system (it doesn’t matter if you’re a 22 year old female or a 45 year old male; let someone know where you’ll be and when you’ll be back), and wear sunscreen. Tailgating is often an all-day affair; avoid hangovers and sunburn pain by making smart choices.

Don’t be a menace

Cooperate with law enforcement and stadium security/staff. If a staff member catches you doing something against the rules, remain polite and cooperate. Don’t get thrown out of the park or arrested because you feel the need to win an argument against security personnel. Take the hit and move on. Nobody wants to get called to pick you up and take you home.

Etc

For more information about AT&T stadium rules, check out the website before you head over on game day. With common sense and a basic understanding of the rules, you can enjoy a fun day of tailgating before and/or after a fantastic game.

Posted by admin at 11:52 pm