In the world of criminal justice, evidence is king. But the evidence that jurors have traditionally found to be most compelling has been shown in recent years to be far less reliable than we once thought. Eyewitnesses testimony is a good example. Even when eyewitnesses are sure of what they saw, more objective evidence can show that what actually occurred was very different.
As jurors become more knowledgeable about evidentiary problems, attorneys are trying to use more objective evidence such as video and audio recordings. Unfortunately, these can be faked using readily available software, and the results are often very convincing fabrications.
The American Bar Association recently published an article about the increasing problem of deepfakes, which are described as “artificial intelligence-generated synthetic videos, text and audio.” They are often so convincing that most people would mistake them for real.
The best deepfakes are created by sophisticated digital users with high-end equipment and a lot of training. But nearly anyone else can create “cheapfakes” using software that is readily available and fairly easy to use.
Presently, digital forensic experts are often able to authenticate real recordings and expose those that have been doctored. But the software is getting better all the time, and humans may not be able to keep up.
Using this technology, it might be possible to frame someone for any number of crimes, from armed robbery to assault. Audio recordings are even easier to fake, and some individuals involved in family law disputes have tried to use cheapfakes to fabricate recordings of their spouses supposedly issuing violent threats.
The fact that deepfakes and cheapfakes are already leading to controversy in the courtroom suggests this problem will only get worse as the technology improves and becomes more widely available. For this and other reasons, it is critical for anyone facing serious criminal charges to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.