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Massachusetts Court and Defendant Disagree Over Use of Shapchat Video in Firearm Case

In a recent firearm case coming out of a Massachusetts court, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict was denied. The defendant argued that part of the evidence presented against him, an incriminating Snapchat video, should not have been admissible at trial. The court disagreed with the defendant’s argument and ultimately denied his appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was shopping at a convenience store when he went to the cashier to check out. Another customer got in line behind the defendant, and she later testified that she waited patiently as the defendant engaged in a long conversation with the cashier. At one point, the defendant turned toward the second customer and asked whether she had a problem. The customer noticed that the defendant’s zipper was undone and that a firearm was on display under his shorts.

The customer quickly left the market and called the police. A few hours later, officers were patrolling the area and found a person matching the customer’s description. They stopped the person, who happened to be the defendant in this case. At that point, the defendant did not have any weapons on his person.

A few days later, the defendant was arrested separately for assault with a dangerous weapon. Officers searched the defendant’s home and found a .22 caliber firearm and ammunition hidden in the ceiling. The defendant was later indicted on several charges, including possession of a firearm on both the day of the convenience store incident and the day of the assault.

Discussion

The defendant appealed his conviction, making several arguments on appeal. One of the arguments was based on a Snapchat video that the prosecutor used as evidence against the defendant during his trial. The defendant had posted a video one day prior to the convenience store incident on the social media platform, showing him with the same .22 caliber firearm that officers later found in his bedroom.

The defendant argued that the court had no legitimate way to authenticate the Snapchat video recording. According to the defendant, the prosecutor did not present enough evidence that the defendant had recorded the video the day before the convenience store incident. Without this evidence, it was unfair for the prosecutor to use the video to incriminate the defendant.

The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed with him. The court concluded that it was sufficient that the Commonwealth offered the testimony of the police officer who observed the video on the day in question. Additionally, the video did not need expert testimony to be considered admissible. The basic functioning of Snapchat requires no scientific or technical knowledge outside of common understanding, thus no expert testimony was required to enter the video into evidence.

Given these conclusions, the court affirmed the defendant’s original guilty verdict.

Are You Facing Firearm Charges in Massachusetts?

If you or a loved one has been charged with firearm possession in Massachusetts, know that you have options moving forward. By calling the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, you can work to set a defense plan in motion that defends your rights and protects your future. For a free consultation, call us at 617-367-0450.

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