Written evidence must be presented in a format that can be read by the judge and kept by the court reporter. This means that it`s not enough to have your phone at the trial version if you want to view a text message. You must print the text messages or have them in a PDF file that can be saved to a USB flash drive (or both). Before text messages can be brought into a case, they must be legally obtained as evidence. Buckfire says that if a person does not voluntarily provide their cell phone, a lawyer can get a court order or subpoena to gain access to the relevant messages. Even if the owner of a phone has deleted some messages from their own device, these texts can still be recovered from the phone of the person who received the messages. Most major wireless service providers also keep records of the content of text messages sent and received by their account holders for a short period of time. Almost everyone in our modern world uses a phone or electronic device to communicate, which means we also leave a digital footprint. SMS has become a very traditional method of communication in the workplace and in our family communication. This comes with many legal issues. Can text messages be used in court? How serious are text messages as evidence in a case? Are yours being used against you? Once the prosecutor has sufficiently authenticated the messages, he must prove that the text message is relevant and not excessively harmful and does not violate other rules of evidence. The biggest burden of inserting a text message into the evidence (other than authentication) will likely be hearsay objection.
Many texts are classified as hearsay because they are all statements made outside the court. However, many texts are still allowed because the party presenting them will argue that they are not offered for the truth of the case claimed in the text, but that the text message is offered to prove the contrary (i.e. the accused and the victim communicated shortly before the attack). Even though the text message is hearsay, the courts have concluded that several different exceptions apply and still allow the text. Text messages can be used to prove wrongdoing or support a defensive stance in a variety of legal proceedings, from family law issues such as divorce and custody to personal injury lawsuits and criminal litigation. It is therefore for the courts to interpret the old rules and apply them to the new forms of communication. Most courts have found a way to use the rules to take text messages and social media posts to court. The first hurdle that must be overcome to admit evidence is to “authenticate” it. This means that the party trying to admit the message as evidence must prove that this is what they say it is (i.e., a text message sent by the person they say they sent it). If the prosecutor tries to prove that you committed a crime by showing a text you sent, he must prove that you actually sent it. You can try to do this by showing that it comes from a number or account associated with your name. Like social media posts and other forms of digital communication, text messages can be used as evidence in court and can be useful in the outcome of criminal and civil cases.
Then there are apps that allow you to download messages from a phone or iPad and download the communication to a computer, Mac, or PC. Useful apps include iMazing, Decipher Tools, and SMS Expert. Many of these apps record the time and date, making it easy to use the document as relevant evidence in court. There`s a lot of scrutiny of admissible evidence in court, Buckfire says. “You can`t just bring a phone and say, `This is this phone and this message,`” he says. “You have to show that a text is reliable, that it has useful value in a case, and that it is not unfairly biased.” However, some courts have ruled that this is not enough to prove that the message was sent by you, as different people may have access to your phone or Facebook page, and of course, it is possible to create fake Facebook pages or be hacked. Therefore, some courts require additional proof that the message is from you. For example, they may search for information contained in the text that only you could have known.
Text messages leave an electronic record of the dialogue, which can be seized as evidence in court. Once a text message is admitted to court, it`s a fair game – and can potentially decide or break a case. “In a lawsuit, text messages are essentially a recorded conversation, or at least a written expression of your intention to say or do something,” Buckfire says. “They document your thoughts, ideas, and expressions.” The texts have also played a famous role in high-profile court cases such as Michelle Carter`s “TEXT SUICIDE” trial, Anthony Weiner`s sexting trial and, more recently, amber Heard-Johnny Depp`s defamation lawsuit. Lawyers and clients often need to accurately document and print text messages for courts, mediations or court proceedings. Every year there are millions of other legal cases where text messages are used as evidence in a trial and also by lawyers for discovery. A text can also reveal brief messages about a couple`s children, visits, and custody issues. Taken out of context, a text may give the impression that a parent has an anger problem or does not care about the child or the children.
Given the nature of the manipulation that can result from the interpretation of text messages, it depends mainly on the nature of that text and how it was obtained, whether or not that text message can be used in court. Your lawyer will tell you which ones are allowed or not. If a person has not yet been charged with a crime, Buckfire says law enforcement can request an arrest warrant from a judge or judge to search a phone. “You have to have a good reason why the police need the phone and why it`s necessary for the investigation,” he says. “Once there is an arrest warrant, the police can seize the phone, have it examined and download [its data].” Learn how to use text messages as proof. Option 1: If the iPhone was backed up with iCloud or iTunes, you can try to restore the old text messages by restoring the backup file to the phone. Note that restoring the backup file on iPhone will erase all data – texts, pictures, etc.