From Evidence to Proof: Social Network Analysis in Italian Criminal Courts of Justice

Roberto Musotto


Social network analysis has changed the way that Scholars and Analysts look at human relationships and it has also helped in understanding why, when and how specific behavioural choices are made and legally relevant interactions might happen or not. Legal documents such as laws, policies and court cases are increasingly used as the starting point for such analysis, yet, its practical application in the judicial procedure is sparse or non-existent. Which raises the questions: is it possible to use social network analysis as an investigative and judicial tool to implement the production of evidence in court? More importantly, how would it account in helping public prosecutors, judges, juries and defenders in presenting evidence during a trial? In which ways could the analysis of a network contribute to the creation of a legal proof? In this paper, arguments are presented for understanding how this implementation would be possible and answering the above questions. The paper also explores the opportunities and also potential pitfalls of introducing network analysis as a means by which proof can be created. It will draw from the context of Italian Criminal Courts of Justice and its criminal procedure laws in order to understand how social network analysis would fit and behave, especially in the pursuit of Serious Crimes. The paper is structured as follows: the first part introduces the problem of social network analysis in crime and legal research; the second part presents how the criminal legal system in Italian Courts of Justice is structured and it is followed by a description of possible interpolations of social network analysis techniques according to the current Italian Criminal Procedure Code and the general Criminal Justice System; the third part reviews and discusses these implications in the light of legal and social doctrines; the fourth part concludes.

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