ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Criminals are often caught bragging about their exploits on social media; but can these messages be used in their criminal case? On Thursday, the state Supreme Court clarified guidelines for the use of such evidence in court.
The court ruled that social media evidence used in a lawsuit must achieve the same level of authentication as other evidence. Law enforcement says this is really helpful, as social media is a factor in many cases.
“You see a lot of these people bragging about their crimes and showing pictures of them shooting their guns and they show their money and their drugs, even after they’ve committed a crime,” said Gilbert Gallegos, gatekeeper. word of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).
At APD, social media plays an increasingly important role in catching criminals. Gallegos says the rise of influencer culture is causing criminals to publish all about their crimes, which helps them in their investigations. He says the use of social media evidence has become the norm and in many cases should support a crime.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials are also seeing the usefulness of social media in some cases.
“Drug trafficking has changed,” says Greg Millard, Special Agent in Charge, DEA El Paso, “they’re using social media to sell this…and we’ve adapted to that and we have investigations targeting people using media to sell drugs.”
Quontez Kuvinka was involved in a fatal carjacking and accident in 2017 and got a break until he was found on social media holding and firing guns, violating his agreement. He was later sentenced to prison for the crime.
Thursday’s Supreme Court opinion restored the conviction of a girl who stole a car and drove recklessly in 2020 in Portales. In this case, the Facebook posts showed her and her boyfriend discussing her drunk driving and car accident. However, at the time, an appeals court said the state could not prove the authenticity of the messages and overturned the conviction.
The use of social media evidence has become so prominent locally that APD is looking to expand its analyst division to help sift through all social media data.