Google Searches Used To Convict Hit-And-Run Driver

from the google-searches-in-a-court-of-law dept

In the past, we've noted various lawsuits where Google searches done by the accused were used against them in a court of law. There was the guy who searched on "neck snap break," days before his wife was murdered, and then there was the woman who searched on "how to commit murder" and other rather damning phrases like "instant poison" and "undetectable poisons," before her husband was murdered. In yet another such case, an investment banker has been convicted of a hit-and-run that killed a woman, after his Google searches soon after the accident turned up the phrase "hit and run." The guy had claimed that he believed he hit a deer, but his Google searches suggested he knew it was a person. Beyond just searching for the phrase hit and run, he also did searches on: "auto glass reporting requirements to law enforcement," "auto glass, Las Vegas," auto parts, auto theft, and the Moraga Police Department. Since the incident was in California, the thinking was he was looking to get the damage to his car repaired out of state to avoid any suspicion from the auto repair place. While the guy appealed the ruling saying that even with those searches he didn't have any actual knowledge he had hit a person, the appeals court didn't find that to be very convincing.


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    identicon
    TriZz, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    I didn't RTFA...

    Were these search results provided by Google or were they provided by the auto-complete form in his browser?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 3:05pm

      Re: I didn't RTFA...

      Since they said in the article they found out via searching his computer, my guess would be autocomplete/history.

       

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    Potato Head, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 3:44pm

    Thats why...

    Thats why I do all my damning searches on a remote host

     

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    zcat, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 4:12pm

    ubuntu live cd

    although I do wonder how much Google would hand over if someone were able to get a warrant.. The ISPs seem more than willing to hand over details of who used what IP when, even without a warrant, so no need to speculate there.

     

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      hegemon13, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 4:24pm

      Re: ubuntu live cd

      With a warrant, I would imagine Google would hand over whatever was requested, as they should. I have no problem with a service provider turning over information, as long as the proper procedures have been followed.

       

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    Xanius, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 5:00pm

    New privacy feature slogan

    Sounds like IE8 and chrome have a new slogan for privacy mode.
    "Use it and you can get away with murder!"

     

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      zcat, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 5:36pm

      Re: New privacy feature slogan

      Not really. If the police had strong enough suspicions to persuade a judge and get a warrant I'm pretty sure google would hand over the search records. And I know the ISP would help them tie the IP address to the customer 'cos they'll do that for the MAFIAA even without a warrant.

      If I planned to murder anyone and used teh intarweb for any of the planning, I'd be sure to use tor first and dban afterwards..

       

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    inc, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 9:36am

    Ubuntu Live CD behind the tor network people.. jeez

     

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    Sos, Jan 18th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Since there is no enforcement of non-repudiation in google searches, how did they prove it was him that made the search in the first place?

     

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    Bill, Jan 18th, 2009 @ 2:44pm

    cicumstantial evidence

    If the foundation of the case was his use of google it seems extremely flimsy to me. I use google all the time and if someone were to pick & choose key words I'm sure they could make my searches fit any case they want to throw at me. Likewise, I think the guy got shafted, tossed in the pokey on circumstancial evidence that shouldn't hold water. Unless someone can get him to confess or he fails a polygraph - no one really has a clue as to what he knew. The searches can infer his thought process at the time, but it alone should not be construed as intent.

     

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    David, Jan 19th, 2009 @ 7:37am

    Missing information???

    I dont think any judge would convict on this flimsy evidence. We are probly missing information here. They Probly had other evidence against him but this evidence was used to make the conviction more harsh. Hit and run thinking you hit a deer chance of getting manslauter which carries a liter sentance. Hit and run trying to hide from police nowing you hit a persone if found hit and run to be accidental Murder 2nd dagree. I could be wrong.

     

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    bryce, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 6:32pm

    Not flimsy

    If you read the full story, they found the womans earing in the drain under the windshield.

     

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    frank, May 26th, 2009 @ 5:34am

    well, still: in a criminal case guilt must be prooven beyond reasonable doubt. that google evidence might be damning in a civil case, where it's just about what is more likely, but not in a criminal one.
    i suspect there must have been more evidence...

     

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    identicon
    frank, May 26th, 2009 @ 5:34am

    well, still: in a criminal case guilt must be prooven beyond reasonable doubt. that google evidence might be damning in a civil case, where it's just about what is more likely, but not in a criminal one.
    i suspect there must have been more evidence...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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