Text Messages as Evidence in Court

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Text Messages as Evidence in Court

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Thanks to today’s technology, text messaging is used as evidentiary material in court. However, you need to disclose the texts to the other party ASAP. Otherwise, the other side may foil your efforts.

If you plan carefully, you can use text messaging during discovery, when each side is preparing their case and gathering evidence. This will prevent any problems with verifying the authenticity of text communications. To experience a successful outcome, you’ll need to rely on the services of the best lawyer near you – someone who will keep you up to date on the gathering of evidence using current technologies.

Text messaging, just like social media posts, is used as evidence in court and can, in fact, significantly affect the results in both civil and criminal cases.

To preserve evidence, it is important to back up cell phones and keep older smartphones when switching to updated models. You want to include all the text in a case to ensure you accurately tell your story.

Therefore, it is paramount that you avoid modifying or deleting text messages from the history on your device. You don’t want to give the other side any ammunition to call anything into question. You should always export messages into a readable form so the reader immediately understands the importance of the information and the reason for the exchange.

Make Sure Your Records are Complete

Besides text messages, electronic messages, in the form of PDF files, allow you to provide all the information needed to prove a claim or support your statements. A screenshot does not give you this type of latitude. Obtaining complete records is worth the additional effort.

Authenticating Text Messages

Like other types of evidence, your lawyer must authenticate text messages so they can admit them to the court. You cannot simply include a defendant’s name on a message. You still need further confirmation to show authorship.

To admit text messaging then, the rules of evidence typically hold that authentication is made by confirming circumstances. To authenticate a text message, you might present a copy – a photo or printout of messages or screenshot that shows identifying info – all of which connects the messenger to the texter. You may also secure an affidavit or testimony that shows that both originals and copies are true and precise representations of the texts.

If possible, you should include copies of texts that include the date and time – stamped on the messages and the contact details of the sender, such as a phone number.

Copying a Text Message from an iPhone

If you copy a text message from an iPhone, you can download your text messages to a computer. Usually, the texts feature timestamps and the sender’s details, storing the messages in an easy-to-print outline. You can also obtain pictures, videos, or texts from an iPhone by paying a fee of around $40.00.

Taking Screenshots on an Android Device

You can take screenshots on Android devices as well. However, this process is also quite tedious if you have a lot of lengthy messages. You can only capture one screen at a time.

Retrieving Messages on a Non-Smartphone Device

If you’re extracting text messages on a non-smart cell phone device, display the image or text message singly, and take a photo of each. While this too is quite involved, you will obtain a hard copy of the texts you photograph. Always make sure you include the date and time for the message as well as the sender’s contact details.

Recovering Deleted Texts or Photos

If you have to gather texts that you’ve deleted from a phone, you can still recover them. On an iPhone, you can do this by restoring the phone’s backup file. However, remember, you’ll erase any texts or pictures that were created from the last backup. You might also use third-party software so you can search dormant or forgotten data for the purpose of recovery.

It’s important to retrieve the text messages, photos, or files you need using the right methods, as they can serve as essential pieces of evidence. After all, communication is a key component in finding out the truth about any details linked to a criminal offense or complaint.

Gather the Evidence You Need – Contact an Experienced Chicago Attorney

If you have a personal injury case that requires supporting evidence, you can prove your point with text messages, PDF files, or through pictures or videos. An experienced Chicago attorney from Malman Law can assist you in building a strong case. Contact us for a free consultation.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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