Emoji are showing up in court cases exponentially, and courts aren’t prepared

Bay Area prosecutors were trying to prove that a man arrested during a prostitution sting was guilty of pimping charges, and among the evidence was a series of Instagram DMs he’d allegedly sent to a woman. One read: “Teamwork make the dream work” with high heels and money bag emoji placed at the end. Prosecutors said the message implied a working relationship between the two of them. The defendant said it could mean he was trying to strike up a romantic relationship. Who was right?



Emoji are being used as evidence in court—and people are confused

The face of courtroom evidence is evolving, but not all jurors are hip to the new language. In some cases, the meanings of emoji are causing ambiguity and confusion in court.

Emoji first began making their way into court cases around 2014. They’ve been used to arrest a teen accused of making a terroristic threat online, to portray a woman accused of poisoning her child as a loving mother, and to claim that sexual harassment was in fact consensual. Before that, emoji and emoticons were typically omitted from court proceedings.



Emojis on trial: Icons posing challenges for legal system

‘The Emoji Factor’ co-author Elizabeth Kirley says sometimes emojis can create fear in recipients, but leaves judges scratching their heads.