The use of the internet in law and legal cases has been quite impactful, enabling lawyers to find new clients, access online research databases, and improve productivity. However, using it to collect evidence requires walking a fine line — not all evidence you source online is admissible in court.
If you’re looking to use online writings, recordings, or photographs in a case, it’s vital to understand the best evidence rule to ensure the authenticity and admissibility of such evidence.
What’s the Best Evidence Rule?
The best evidence rule is a legal principle requiring a party to provide original documents to prove their contents during a case. This principle only applies when the party is presenting the content of the writing, recording, or photograph as evidence, as noted by the Federal Rules of Evidence.
In this case, if the original document of the evidence exists and can be obtained, the secondary evidence can’t be admissible in court. If the original document is unobtainable, the party must provide a valid reason and substantiate the secondary evidence if allowed by the court.
While public and private information on social media and other online accounts can be admissible in court, it must be authenticated directly. The party must show proof of how the data was obtained and preserved for it to be admissible in court, and that’s where SMI Aware comes in.
Our Approach & Process
At SMI Aware, we trust in the power of technology to collect and preserve court-admissible information. We developed proprietary technology to locate, collect, export, and preserve data from search engines, social media, public records, and the deep web while ensuring:
- Ethical Processes: Our technology and processes comply with regulations to deliver legal and quality services.
- Data Security: We are committed to protecting our client’s data to ensure the integrity of each investigation.
- Uniformity: We use a standardized approach to ensure uniform, consistent, and defensible results.
- Chain of Custody: Our Export service includes source code, metadata, and time stamps to ensure authenticity, compliance, and trackability.
More importantly, we have certified and experienced in-house analysts to complement and augment our proprietary technology. While our technology is powerful, the human element is vital in eliminating false positives and conducting in-depth analysis to ensure accuracy and compliance.
We also customize the investigation to deliver actionable case-specific reports. For example, we offer Deep Reports, which cover a subject’s complete online presence, including social media, deep web, online forums, wearables, etc. After the investigation, we provide archivable information for secure preservation or court-ready reports for use in cases.
Build Strong Cases with Us
The success of any case or investigation depends on the authenticity of the collected evidence, as enshrined in the best evidence rule. Many cases and projects fail due to insufficient or unethically collected evidence, which can cost you the case or even your reputation.
Instead, you can partner with an evidence collection and preservation company to secure crucial information for any case. SMI Aware uses custom technology and certified analysts to collect and preserve authenticated and court-admissible evidence, saving you time and money.
Contact us today and find out how SMI Aware can help your firm ethically collect and preserve OSINT evidence.