Can Text Messages Be Used as Evidence of Guilt in Texas?

Can Text Messages Be Used as Evidence of Guilt in Texas?

The digital age is here and just about everyone, even young children, communicates largely through text messaging. The practice has become so common that people are even using it to discuss or plot criminal activities, such as drug deals and burglaries. The question that has arisen is whether or not these digital notes can be used as admissible and sufficient evidence in a criminal case.

Text Messages Used as Evidence in Criminal Court

The courts are still taking into consideration whether prosecutors can use texts as evidence of the accused in a criminal case. As a result of the court case Butler v. State, The Texas Court of Appeals has said that it is up to the jury's discretion to decide if the text messages in question actually came from the defendant or not.

The reason the answer is not just a flat-out "yes, of course" revolves around the authenticity of text messages. If you were to write a letter, a good detective would be able to compare the handwriting to your own, removing some or all doubt as to who actually wrote it. That is not the case, however, with text messages. A strong defense team can show that just because a text originated from your phone doesn't necessarily mean you wrote it, as it could be argued that someone else sent the text.

Furthermore, Texan juries may be presented with text messages from any phone: either the defendant's own that sent the text or someone else's who received it. As many text messaging programs allow for group texts and conferences, this could amount to a wide number of cell phones in question.

Lastly, even though text messages are not physical evidence, they still need to be obtained as if they were so. Unlawful seizures of cellular devices that lead to the collection of incriminating text messages cannot be submitted as evidence of guilt.

If you are facing criminal charges in Texas and are afraid that the prosecution might try to use text messages against you, contact Fort Worth Criminal Attorney Samuel Terry today. He and his team focus solely on criminal defense and have gathered an impressive list of winning case results. Be sure to call 817.756.1817 as soon as you can to get started today.