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Can Facebook images be used as evidence for municipal violation and citation?

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Reviewed Date: December 11, 2019

Original Author: 
Hodge, Elisha
Co-author: 
Rogers, Honna
Date of Material: 
Oct 31, 2017


Subjects:
Animal control--Laws and regulations

Can Facebook images be used as evidence for municipal violation and citation?

Summary: 
MTAS responds to a question regarding whether images on Facebook be used as evidence for municipal violation and citation.

Question from Honna Rogers, MTAS Municipal Management Consultant:

A city in Tennessee recently passed a pit bull ordinance prohibiting them from being in the city.  It did grandfather in any that were already in the city but required them to be registered. They have a couple of people that they know haven’t registered but believe have pit bulls. They have seen these individuals post on Facebook pictures of their dogs and claim them on there but deny it to the city officials. The police write the citations in the city but will not write a citation without seeing the pit bulls in person. The Mayor wants to know if Facebook can be used as evidence in order to write a ticket and take it to court. I know there may be additional questions and I’m glad to discuss on the phone with you.

Response from Elisha Hodge, MTAS Legal Consultant:

No, I do not think so. I agree that the officers should not write the tickets unless the officer writing the ticket sees the dog in person. The pictures on Facebook do not prove that the individuals in the pictures own pit bulls or that the dogs are in the city. I think that the pictures could be used as an investigative tool, but not as the sole evidence used to cite someone.

 


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Information written by MTAS staff was based on the law at the time and/or a specific sets of facts. The laws referenced may have changed and/or the technical advice provided may not be applicable to your city or circumstances. Always consult with your city attorney or an MTAS consultant before taking any action based on information posted to this website.