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White-Collar Crime: Can Your Text Messages Be Used Against You?

Posted by Alfonso Cabañas | Oct 09, 2019 | 0 Comments

Person Texting on Phone

Today, texting is considered the most common and frequent method of communication. You probably send texts regularly through the day to family members, friends, business acquaintances and more without much of a second thought.

From a practice standpoint, texting allows you to keep in touch and easily communicate with others. Since text messages are a form of digital communication that are able to be stored, the question of if they can be used as evidence in white-collar litigation cases has come up.

If you are like many people, you may send texts without giving much thought to what's in the message. The idea is that if the information is sensitive enough, the recipient is going to take care of making sure the message is deleted.

However, just like anything that is digital, there are records of any communication you send via text. In some situations, it's the recipient who maintains the text for their own records.

The question is, can these be used against you in a white-collar criminal case?

Can Text Messages be Used in Court?

When a person sends out a text, the last thing they think about is if the text message may be used against them in court. The simple answer to this question is “yes,” however, there are some exceptions.

Just like any other form of evidence that is used in a white-collar criminal case, text messages have to meet specific criteria and the opposing side can object to their use.

For a text message or messages to be used as evidence in a courtroom in Texas, one of the main hurdles that must be overcome is the message's authenticity. It must be established that the message came from the phone number and the person/source that was named. If text messages are used as evidence against you, the first way to defend against this is by establishing the message was not sent from you directly or that it had been altered in some way.

The ability to prove this is challenging, especially if the text was spent from a personal phone where there's a pre-exiting history that demonstrates the defendant was the main user. For business or shared phones, it is easier to establish the possibility that another person was involved in the communication.

The issue of privacy also has to be considered. An individual who submits any text they have received as possible evidence is a unique scenario. The process for using that information is different than if the defendant's phone is acquired and searched, using what is found on it as a source of evidence. In this situation, it's necessary for a warrant to be obtained to search the phone and the contents, just like a warrant is needed before searching a person's home or work.

Contact a White-Collar Litigation Lawyer for Help

Contrary to what many people believe, a financially motivated crime is taken very seriously in the courts. If you are facing a white-collar litigation case, contact our legal team at Cabanas Attorneys by calling (210) 446-4090 for help and information.

About the Author

Alfonso Cabañas

Attorney Alfonso Cabanas Alfonso Cabañas, the founding criminal defense lawyer of Cabañas Law Firm, practices criminal defense in the United States and business law in both the U.S. and Mexico. His trial experience includes a variety of federal white-collar, drug, and state criminal defense case...


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