Can text messages on your phone be used as evidence against you in court?
Cell phones have taken on a central role in modern day life. We use cell phones to pay friends with apps like Venmo, to interact with social media like Instagram and Facebook, to shop with apps like Amazon, and to interact with each other by taking photos, calling, and texting our friends and family. In short, our phones are treasure troves of information about us. It only makes sense that law enforcement’s desire to search cell phones for evidence as part of their investigation of criminal allegations is becoming more and more common.
Police can search your phone – if they have a warrant
Warrants for the search and seizure of a phone often seek to look at and search every aspect of your phone. From your text messages, your social media accounts, and call logs to your phone’s GPS location history and cell phone tower data.
Even further, it is well established that deleting text messages off of your phone will not ensure that they will not be used against you. This is because prosecutors are able to obtain them from other places if not directly from your phone. Your phone service provider is able to give the messages if asked to do so (with a valid warrant). Even the people who received the messages can be asked to testify in court about the statements you wrote.
In short, text messages can offer more information about you than you might think. They not only give information about what you are doing on any given day, but also who you were with and exactly what time you were with them. And texts are only a piece of the overall data that police with a valid warrant may have access to that can be found on your phone and used against you.
Even worse, exchanges over text message can be introduced as evidence in criminal court. The Rules of Evidence in Tennessee allow written or recorded statements be introduced by a party in a criminal case. Generally speaking, most criminal courts will allow text messages to be presented as part of the State’s case against an accused person as long as they are relevant to the issues in the case and can be authenticated for use in court.
Always assume your text messages can be used as evidence in court!
At this point, it is obvious that you should be careful about what you write to your friends and what information is available on your phone. It can easily be used against you later in a court of law. So be smart and make sure that you don’t send anything in a text that you aren’t prepared to have read aloud in court.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, or are under criminal investigation, and want a strong criminal defense attorney in Franklin, Williamson County, Nashville, or Middle Tennessee then contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about our strong legal representation!
The information in this website is not legal advice. Visiting our website does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. The information provided above is intended to be used for informational purposes only and we hope it may assist in understanding the evaluation of your case when speaking with a Tennessee attorney.