Diaries can be written for all number of reasons, but one thing most diary writers have in common is the expectation that their private thoughts and observations will be kept private. Unfortunately, the US legal system doesn’t hold diaries as a protected source of speech that can’t be used against their writer later on. So if you are accused of a crime, could your private diary be used against you? It all depends on your specific situation and on your Vista criminal defense attorney.
First, it’s important to recognize that while your diary could be used in a criminal investigation, just because you keep a journal doesn’t mean that it will automatically be something that can be used as evidence. If it was obtained through illegal search and seizure methods, it will be inadmissible in court.
Additionally, the prosecutor must be able to show that the contents of the diary are relevant to the case. On the down side, this means the judge, prosecutor and your Vista defense lawyer will all have to read your private writings in order to debate whether or not they are relevant to the proceedings. While this still won’t make them open to the public record, if you are a person who never wanted anyone to read your diary -you will have to cope with having them read by at least these people. The upside is that even if your writings are admitted as evidence, generally your whole diary will not be considered relevant, so only the entries related to the specific case will be made available in the trial. The contents of the rest of the diary can impact how public the documents are made. In cases where there are many private details about the writer’s life, the court will generally be more sensitive about making the contents private. On the other hand, if you’re keeping a sleep journal or a food diary, you should probably assume the judge won’t be too considerate when it comes to keeping the details private.
Next, it’s worth noting that it isn’t only the diary of someone accused of a crime that can be used as evidence. In fact, a diary entry could also be used as evidence on behalf of the defense. For example, while a journal entry describing how a wife wanted her husband dead may be used by the prosecution to help show a homicide was first degree murder, a diary description about a steamy, romantic sexual encounter by someone who later claims they were raped could help the defendant’s Vista criminal attorney fight the charges.
If you have any questions about how relevant a diary may be to a court case and whether or not it may be admissible, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Vista criminal defense lawyer Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Fredrik Rubensson