As technology advances, it’s becoming more difficult to verify the authenticity of images and videos used as evidence in court proceedings. Arkansas lawyers have been made aware of this new challenge by articles in the ABA Journal and other publications. In cases around the world, it’s been discovered that some people are doctoring evidence with so-called deepfakes.

What are deepfakes?

Deepfakes have been in the mainstream news since at least 2018 and in courtrooms for years earlier. The word deepfake is a combination of the term “deep learning” with the word fake. They are images that have been manipulated, usually replacing one person’s image with another’s. Deepfakes have been used to create revenge porn in some cases. In others, they have been used to implicate people for crimes they didn’t commit.

Deepfakes are created with artificial intelligence. To the naked eye, they can be very convincing. In one recent case in Britain, deepfakes almost costed a man his reputation. His former partner had manipulated a piece of footage in order to falsely portray him as violent and bad-natured. Luckily, his advocates were experienced in criminal defense law. They challenged the footage and exposed it as fake by looking at the metadata.

The importance of verifying evidence

Today, judges and lawyers are trying to come up with processes for verifying evidence and uncovering deepfakes. If such videos are allowed to proliferate unchecked, they will be able to taint the justice system.

The decision about what pieces of evidence to admit in court has serious consequences for defendants on trial. Without carefully verifying voicemail messages, photos and videos, there can always be a lingering doubt about innocence. A criminal defense attorney understands how common and deceptive deepfakes can be and may work to prevent such evidence from being used against the defendant.