Despite having its roots in science fiction, Virtual Reality, or VR, is quickly becoming one of the most exciting and versatile technologies of the modern age.
Advertised as being even more impactful than its predecessor, Augmented Reality (AR) and VR is being used in an array of fields from medicine to education. While the primary use seems to lie in immersive entertainment and gaming, the VR revolution is only just beginning.
So, is there room for VR within the legal space and if so, how could it be used?
Crime scene recreation
Although technology has always been used to recreate crime scenes for investigators , the power of VR could have a massive impact on the way in which crimes are explored within a legal environment.
With relatively simple mapping technology, judges, jurors, and witnesses could find themselves immersed in a crime scene. While this sounds unpleasant, it would be possible to replay and recreate incidents using digital imagery.
This would not only give everyone present a far clearer picture of what likely unfolded, but also allow experts to view the incident remotely, which is particularly valuable in cases of malpractice or negligence.
Although crime scene recreations are not always viewed as definitive, the ability to digest information in real time within a virtual space can only help explore cases from every angle, which is beneficial.
Many legal professionals take years to build up the confidence, manner, and authority needed to control a court room.
Given the success of VR as a training aid within the medical profession, it may prove a useful tool for creating realistic moot court experiences.
The possibility of networked virtual reality devices also means that within a few years the interactive experience could be played out in real time. And once again, because of connectivity functionality, there is little to no need for participants to share any physical space.
Remote training and preparation of lawyers will ultimately benefit the defendant, and help the legal community to uphold the law.
One of the most difficult situations a person can face is to have to confront an attacker. The fear that most witnesses feel in this instance is only natural – but VR could help reduce that anxiety.
By experiencing the court room in virtual reality, witnesses will not have to interact with an assailant at all. Rather, they would be free to deliver their testimony within a virtual space that is completely safe.
The likelihood of a testimony against truly brutal criminals could be increased using technology of this kind – and it is realistic to expect that convictions would go up as a direct result of this kind of application.
Imagine that instead of understanding evidence through photographs and transcripts, you could experience it in a three-dimensional space?
The juror experience could be greatly enhanced by adding VR capability to the submission of evidence.
Although it might seem farfetched, digital versions of key evidence – such as a weapons, documents, or images – could be housed within a virtual evidence room. This room could then be accessed through controlled VR simulation.
Imagine being able to inspect a murder weapon in space as opposed to just listening to how it was used?
Opening and closing arguments are the most critical part of any lawyer’s arsenal.
While the facts and the letter of the law are of paramount importance when constructing an argument, the ability to convey the true nature of a crime is essential in achieving the desired outcome.
Although steps would have to be taken to avoid the experience turning into entertainment, VR could plausibly allow lawyers to not only recount their perspective, but immerse all present in the moment.
Viewing a crime from the eyes of a witness, or even a victim, could greatly enhance the potential power of crime dramatization.
A new horizon
The world of VR is still in its infancy, and it is difficult to predict exactly how this overwhelming sensory technology will be used.
However, the legal niche could benefit from a number of hypothetical scenarios. Borrowing from current medical and educational applications could see VR becoming a tool for greater clarity, more compelling arguments, and ultimately, a more just application of the law – once it passes legislative scrutiny, of course.