Digital Photography Helps Bolster Domestic Violence and Abuse Cases

Police Departments around the U.S. have begun to use digital photography to document physical evidence in prosecuting domestic violence and abuse cases and making the accusations stick. Physical evidence of domestic violence is often not visible by the time a case comes to court, and Polaroid photographs shot with budget conscious police department cameras are often fuzzy and unconvincing, particularly for dark skinned victims, and film images often aren’t available for the initial court hearing. Not so with digital camera images. Blackened and swollen eyes, facial and body bruises and other physical marks, as well as evidence of attempted strangulation/finger and hand marks on a victim’s neck, are all shockingly clear and visible with digital imaging. These photographs can be quickly downloaded into a courtroom computer so that the judge and prosecutor have the digital evidence before them at the arraignment, where the decision to prosecute or dismiss the case is often decided. Opponents of digital images as courtroom admissible worry that these images are too easily manipulated and may result in false convictions. However, prosecutors have countered that it is easy to detect when a digital image has been altered. Domestic violence cases in New York City’s Queens borough now include digital photography, and this has resulted in a dramatic increase in domestic abuse convictions and very few case dismissals.