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Even outdated digital evidence can be used in court

When investigating both traditional crimes and Internet crimes, the police often turn to digital evidence. There are challenges to using this, such as the fact that it is possible to create fake evidence on a computer—such as doctored photos—and the fact that some files can be deleted. However, it's important to remember where this evidence can come from, even if the devices are massively outdated.

In today's world, a phone is considered outdated after two years. A computer is very old after five years. When it comes to evidence, though, police will sometimes use old devices that would generally be considered well past their prime.

For example, police had been looking for a serial killer since the 1970s, and failing to find him. In 2005, they finally got a break in the case when they found evidence on a floppy disk.

By 2005, no one was using floppy discs. They'd been replaced years before by CDs, and those were in the process of being replaced by flash drives and other hard drive based technologies. Just because the technology was no longer used, though, didn't keep it out of the case or out of court.

More often, electronic evidence is going to be found on mobile phones, cloud servers, hard drives, flash drives, and SD cards. It may be found on CDs or in email accounts—the contents of which are typically on cloud servers, but not always. However, if you're facing charges, it's important to know all of the potential sources for digital evidence when considering your rights and legal defense options in Ohio.

Source: National Institute of Justice, "Digital Evidence and Forensics," accessed May 13, 2016

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