The rise of wearable technology has given many people greater control over their lives by allowing them access to detailed information concerning their personal and daily habits. While this technological advance continues to revolutionize a variety of industries, especially healthcare, it has recently made its first impact within the legal community as a FitBit served as a vital piece of evidence in a case where a woman reported a fabricated rape claim.
Last year, Jeannine M. Risley of Lancaster County reported that an unknown intruder broke into her house during the middle of the night and raped her, according to Wall Street Journal. When police arrived on the scene, they investigated the house and noticed a Fitbit device laying on the floor of a hallway. They asked the woman if they could use the device in their investigation and she consented, giving them access to her username and password.
The prosecution pulled the data from the FitBit, but instead of aiding to the defense of Risley, the device completely contradicted her claim.
Risley told the police that intruder entered the house around midnight when she was sleeping, and raped her in the bathroom after she had later awaken, but according to the affidavit, the FitBit band showed otherwise:
“The information collected from the fitbit [sic] device showed that Nina was awake and walking around the entire night prior to the incident and did not go to bed as reported. The Fitbit shows activity up until the time of the call and then again only when it is collected by your Affiant.”
Brett Hambright, spokesman for the Lancaster County district attorney’s office, reported that the Fitbit was a major piece of evidence in the case, saying it “definitely turned the case.”
After the Lancaster County Court reviewed the evidence, they decided that Risley had fabricated the rape and the intrusion, but before they proceeded to a plea, they gave Risley a chance to abort the claim.
Under a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders, Risley was offered the opportunity to clear her case as long as she complied with the terms: two years of probation and 100 hours of community service. Her charges of reporting a false alarm, tampering with evidence and soliciting a false accusation will be dismissed if she complies.
While this case stands as a precedent in the legal community, it may not be the last time wearable technology is used as evidence in court. Huffington Post recently reported that by 2018, the number of wearables shipped to consumers is predicted to hit 130 million. As wearables continue to integrate into the fabric of our civilization, data about health, progress and overall activity will exponentially expand giving us extremely intricate detail about the human condition, the good and the bad and the ugly.