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A Defence lawyer's perspective on issues in criminal law
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Calgary Criminal Defence in the Age of Social Media
Tagged Criminal Defence BlogJune 10, 2015
A local Calgary retailer thinks it's caught a criminal and decided to play detective and prosecutor all at once.
While the drive to punish a habitual shoplifter is understandable, posting the picture of an alleged perpetrator online isn't as advisable. The Calgary Police agree.
"Although the act in itself of displaying an image of a person is not criminal, we do not advocate stores do that," said Const. Andrew Critchley.
"Calgary Police service actually operates a platform for retailers to lawfully share information related to retail-related crime," he said. "This program is managed by police officers and adheres to Freedom of Information and privacy legislation."
The problem isn't simply violating the privacy of an alleged shoplifter. It also denies all people in Calgary who are accused of a crime their recognized right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of criminal defence law, and is something the shop owners themselves would almost certainly appreciate if they were ever accused of a crime.
While publicly shaming people seems to be a popular online pastime, it has no place in criminal cases here in Calgary, and can only cloud the issues for both prosecutors and for accused parties and their defence lawyers.
Facebook might be tempting, but leave the investigating to the Calgary Police.
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