We all use text messaging as an easy, instant way to communicate with each other without the hassle of dialing a phone and speaking. In 2017, for the first time, the use of mobile messaging apps hit a growth milestone of more than 76.3% of the world’s smart phone users in 2017 and this number continues to grow at significant rates. (eMarketer) While it is clear that almost everyone who uses a smart phone uses a mobile messaging app, if you want to get your hands on copies of text messages to be used as evidence in a divorce case, it can be complicated.
Are text messages admissible as evidence in court?
Yes, text messages are admissible, but it depends on how you accessed them. Email communications and text messages have become standard fodder in discovery for divorce cases for many years now.
Tools for documenting text messages/SMS messages for admission in a court case
Even if you know your spouse’s password, hacking into his or her phone, or pulling up incriminating messages and taking snaps of them with your phone, would not produce admissible evidence. When you present the text/SMS message evidence, it must include the date and time the messages were sent and received, and the contact information for the other parties in the conversation, which is either a phone number or an email address. The following are some examples of the apps available to recover, save and print text messages for a legal proceeding:
For iOS iPhone/ iPad
- iPhone SMS Export: This app works for Windows and Apple. You can use it to copy messages from an iPhone directly to a PC, and it can convert the SMS database to Excel, text, CSV or HTML.
- Decipher Text Message will save and print text messages to be used in court. Messages are saved with a time/date stamp and it saves the data directly to your computer, and it can recover deleted text messages and iMessages.
- SMS Backup +. This app allows you to store messages in your Gmail account so that you can access them from any web browser. The app is free, and it is free to sign up for a Gmail account if you do not already have one.
Each of these apps helps in documenting where the text messages came from, and the date and time the messages were sent. Text messages when used as evidence must be authenticated before they can be used as evidence, which is why it will do you no good to hack the other party’s phone. If the evidence is not collected in a lawful way, regardless of how incriminating it might be, so to speak, the court will likely not allow it. Your experienced divorce attorney from McCabe Russell, P.A, understands the technical requirements for electronic discovery. We can subpoena text messages, and email communications along with any other evidence pertaining to your divorce case.
McCabe Russell, PA, offers comprehensive representation to divorce and family law clients throughout the state. With multiple offices in Howard and Montgomery Counties, we are here when you need us the most. To speak with an experienced member of our team, please call 443-917-3347 or fill out our contact form. We maintain offices in Columbia, Rockville, Bethesda and Fulton to better serve you.