Texting has become one of the most frequently used methods of communication. We tend to send texts back and forth without thinking much at all about the contents of the message. From a purely practical standpoint, texting enables people to stay in touch and more easily communicate. Because text messages are electronic communications that can be stored, the issue has come up as to when they can be used as evidence in white-collar litigation.
Texts are often sent without much thought given to the contents of the message. The general thought being if the information is sensitive enough, the recipient will take care of ensuring the message is deleted. However, as with all things digital, there are records of any communication sent through text. In some cases, it may be the recipient themselves who keeps a text for their record. Are these messages admissible in court, and can they be used against you in a white-collar criminal case?
Can a Text Message Be Used in Court?
When a person sends a text, the last thing on their mind is can a text message be used in court against them. The answer to this question is yes, but not without exceptions. Like any other form of evidence entered into a white-collar crime case, text messages must meet certain criteria and the opposing side always has the opportunity to object their use.
For a text message to be entered as evidence in a Texas court, one of the biggest hurdles that must be overcome is authenticity. It must be reasonably established that the text came from the phone number and the source named. If a text message is being offered as evidence against you, the first line of defense is to form an objection by establishing that the message did not come from you directly or may have been altered in some way.
Proving this can be difficult to establish, especially if the text was sent from a personal phone where there is an existing history to demonstrate the defendant was the primary user. On a shared phone or business phone, it may be easier to establish the possibility of another individual being involved in the communication.
There is also the issue of privacy that needs to be taken into consideration. A person submitting a received text as potential evidence is a slightly different scenario than acquiring the defendant’s phone and using what’s found on it as evidence. In this scenario, a warrant would need to be issued to search the phone and its contents, just the same as a warrant would need to be issued before searching someone’s home or workspace.
Objections to Text Messages in Court
As with all forms of evidence admitted in a criminal trial, a defense lawyer can offer objections to text messages in court. In addition to the authenticity factor already mentioned, there are two other main objects that can be raised which center on the idea of relevance and hearsay.
For a text message to be admitted as evidence, it must be established that the message is relevant to the case, meaning that it is of consequence to the determination or outcome of the trial. A seemingly benign text message may be deemed relevant as evidence if it establishes the whereabouts of the defendant or supports additional evidence in the case.
A text message may be inadmissible as evidence if it’s considered hearsay. Hearsay is defined as an out of court statement that has been made by a person who is not a party in the criminal trial. Determining whether a text message is hearsay or not, especially if the correspondence involves the defendant, can be a very complex process.
Should You Contact a White-Collar Litigation Attorney In Dallas?
Contrary to what some believe, financially motivated crimes are taken very seriously by the courts. If you’re facing white-collar litigation, it’s important that you contact a white-collar litigation attorney in Dallas to discuss your case. There are many factors that can determine the outcome of your case, including whether text messages can be used against you. An experienced defense attorney can assess the evidence against you and prepare the best possible defense. It’s your future on the line. Don’t take any chances, contact a white-collar crime attorney at The Law Office of Broden & Mickelsen in Dallas today.
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Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.