Captured red handed: the impact of social media on the evolving concepts of the criminal defendant and the presumption of innocence

Gimson, Rachel (2017) Captured red handed: the impact of social media on the evolving concepts of the criminal defendant and the presumption of innocence. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Advances in media technology has made it possible for crimes to be documented and commented upon in real-time. Increasingly, crimes are being recorded as they occur by the public on mobile devices and uploaded onto the Internet for global commentary. This public discussion of criminal activities is supplemented by an increasingly pervasive and moralistic media commentary on criminal activity. As a result, guilt can appear to be predetermined through a trial by media and substantiated by apparent “proof” before the individual comes to trial. This thesis considers how such “evidence” of guilt alters perceptions of the defendant and role of the criminal trial in determining guilt. Applying the theory of genealogy, we analyse the role the English defendant has played in the criminal trial and identify that the concept of the defendant is changeable and has been influenced by external pressures. Using the theory of moral mandates this changeable role of the defendant is tested through a qualitative analysis of newspaper commentary and posts on Twitter and YouTube. Two case studies are considered (the Boston Marathon bombing and the Woolwich murder), representing crimes tried in domestic criminal courts. These are compared with one case study of an international crime (allegations against Gaddafi’s tactics during the Libyan civil war to consider the impact of social media on international criminal trials. Through this analysis this thesis identifies some pressure points where social media “evidence”, supplemented by crime news commentary could facilitate another change in the role of the defendant, through the erosion of the presumption of innocence.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence > K0201 Jurisprudence. Philosophy and theory of law
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2017 12:06
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2019 10:09
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/67121

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