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Legal admissibility of electronic evidence

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The use of computers and digital media in unlawful activities has increased so dramatically that investigation of any criminal activity may nowadays produce electronic evidence. However, the rapid growth in the number of criminal cases involving electronic evidence has all-too-often found law enforcement and the judiciary badly prepared to deal with the new issues created by this evidence. The gathering, conservation, communication and presentation of the computer-derived evidence must fulfil legal requirements with regard to the admissibility of the evidence. Electronic evidence that was gathered in a way that was not in accordance with the law will be declared inadmissible and be ruled out of court. This report aims to briefly present the core principles of the law when handling electronic evidence. Therefore, this paper examines the conditions of admissibility of evidence in four European countries. In order to be complete and to give an interesting pan-European view on the question, the English law system has been chosen to illustrate the functioning of the rules relating to the evidence in a country ruled by common law.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2004

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