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Can Text Messages Be Used In Court?

Can Text Messages Be Used In Court?
Can Text Messages Be Used in court
(Last Updated On: May 7, 2022)

Court Cases:

Whenever a dispute arises between individuals, they can get the help of the law to arrive at a solution. Courts handle all kinds of cases. It is their duty to dispense justice and make sure that every individual’s rights are protected. But depending on the type of case, rules can vary. A divorce case would not be handled in the same way as a criminal case. The rules that regulate the court proceedings will be different for each case. Every party involved in a case has to turn to evidence to present their side of the story. But there are rules of evidence that protects people from fabricated stories and fake proofs.

Text Messages:

Almost every individual has a cell phone these days. Our phones not only help us stay connected to social media but also allow us to engage in conversation with our friends and family members through text messages. We can send a text message to anyone as long as we have their phone number. In today’s world, finding someone’s contact information is not that difficult. Once you have someone’s contact information, you can start chatting with them on texts. But do these conversations hold any legal value? If you know that your messages can affect your child custody case or put reasonable doubt on you, you would be more careful with them. An average adult relies heavily on texting, but if they know the impact of their words, they wouldn’t say everything that comes to their minds.

Can I use emails and social media in court

Can Text Messages Be Used in court?

Everyone who has ever texted with friends wouldn’t want their messages leaked. They have the right to keep their personal texting private. But when they become involved in a legal dispute, they have to present all kinds of evidence. The question here is can text messages be used in court, but there is no simple answer to this. Text messages can be used in court if they are necessary for the case and fulfill all the requirements. Here are some important facts about presenting messages in civil and criminal courts:

  1. Hearsay:
    There is a hearsay rule that prevents parties from presenting electronic evidence in the court. This saves the defendant from illegally obtained information. But electronic messages can be presented in the court as an exception to the hearsay rule. The exception only becomes applicable if the electronic messages were exchanged between you and the opposing party. If the incriminating texts were exchanged between you and someone who is not a party to the case then they will be considered hearsay.
  2. Authenticity:
    Keep in mind that your messages must fulfill certain requirements otherwise they won’t be accepted by the court. If you are presenting text message evidence, then it should be authentic. The date and time should be visible on the original texts. You should not have hidden or deleted certain messages. Make sure that the text records are approved by an experienced attorney if you don’t want to lose the case. Only show relevant messages if you don’t want to violate any privacy laws. Discuss your case with a person who has the right legal experience before you decide to go ahead with the evidence.
  3. Be Prepared:
    Keep in mind that you don’t have exclusive access to the textual evidence. The opposing side could use your reply texts against you even if you have deleted them from your cell phone. They can even submit your phone records in detail including your call logs. They can also get lawful access to your photos folder under certain circumstances. Before submitting relevant, admissible evidence, be prepared for the counter-attack. Take extra precautions to avoid running into any problems.
  4. Present Evidence in the Right Way:
    If you have to share only a small number of texts, then you can take a screenshot and get it printed. As long as everything important, including the contact information and full name of the other party, is visible in the screenshot, it will get accepted by the court. If you don’t know what’s the screenshot process, you can turn to YouTube for help. You can also move the messages to your iCloud and then access them through the computer to print them. Whether you have an iPhone or an Android device, the screenshot will be admissible in court either way.
  5. Know the Rules:
    In the United States, every state may have different rules of evidence. The rules may also vary depending on the case. It is better to know in advance when can you present textual evidence and when you can’t. Matters related to a child custody case, criminal offenses, small claims, marital assets, personal injury, etc, can be resolved with the help of cellular device data. But a cell carrier might also have certain rules regarding the sharing of messages in a court.
  6. Understand the Limitations:
    Today’s cell phones come with a lot of features, which is why it is important to understand the limitations when it comes to collecting evidence. If you are allowed to share electronic messages with the court, it may not mean that you can share direct messages too. Social media websites like Twitter or Instagram might have rules against that. It is also good to know beforehand what kind of phone records you can share with the court. If the phone bill won’t help you with the divorce proceedings then you should not present it to the court.
Can text messages be used in the California divorce court

Can text messages be used in the California divorce court?

In the state of California, the general rules regarding screenshots of text messages are not very different than the rest of the country. Messages are more important for cases than phone calls and GPS data. But before you decide to take the evidence to the divorce court, you should talk to your divorce attorney. You can just as well create problems for yourself while trying to paint your spouse in a negative light.

You can share their chat with you to prove that they have been neglecting their parenting duties or making unnecessary purchases from the family account. But if you want to share incriminating messages between your spouse and their friend, then you should talk to divorce lawyers first. In any case, you should not unlock your partner’s Android or iPhone yourself to spy on them as that would weaken your case.

Can I use emails and social media in court?

Along with screenshots of their messages, emails and social media posts of the opposing party can also be helpful in your case. But there are different rules as to how such information can be accessed. For instance, law enforcement cannot submit illegally obtained information in court, even if the information itself is correct. Invasion of privacy will automatically tip the scale in the favor of the opposing party. It is best to tread carefully when it comes to legal matters. Individuals should consult qualified attorneys before taking any step.

In a general sense, everything on social media including YouTube Series, Facebook posts, and Twitter messages can be used in litigation. But the information must have been obtained in a legal manner for it to be admissible in court. Reliable evidence can tip the scale in your offer, which is why you should gather all the relevant data carefully.

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