Hyland Law Firm, LLC
Think Twice before Hitting the Send Button - The Admissibility of Text Messages in Missouri Divorce Cases
On behalf of Hyland Law Firm, LLC posted in Kansas Divorce Attorney on Friday, July 13, 2012.
Hypothetically speaking, say that you are on the brink of a divorce. Your wife is making you super angry and you've just about had it. Out of frustration, you send her a "threatening" text message, perhaps telling her you are going to take her for all she's worth. While at the time it seemed like a good idea to ruffle her feathers a bit, you may end up regretting this decision later on. Nowadays, courts have to constantly catch up with the advent of new technologies, and as such, are frequently facing questions of the admissibility of new forms of evidence, such as how to deal with text messages, emails, and even information rendered from GPS tracking device applications - now available on many of today's most popular cell phones.
Within the past ten years, text messaging has hit an all-time high, becoming one of the most popular forms of communication available today. In essence, nearly 2 billion text messages are sent back and forth across the US each day. So, how are Missouri family courts dealing with admissibility questions related to text messages? Here's how:
- When a text message is called into question, Missouri family courts usually allow the person who received it to testify, pursuant to a physical transcript of the messages, as to his or her recognition of the phone number as that being from the one who sent it, the context of the message as probative of the sender's identity, and its recognition of the phone number associated with the sender of the text messages.
- If a transcript of the cell phone messages are not available, either the sender or the recipient's cell phones can be admitted by the court, pursuant to the line of questioning identified above.
- An attorney in a Missouri family court can also cross examine the person who sent the messages, asking them as to their recognition of the text messages, whether they in fact sent it, and also, questioning them as to the context of the messages to show that they were the only one that had the knowledge necessary to be identified as the sender.
Given the aforementioned, what can you do?
- Moving forward, if you receive threatening messages from your spouse or ex-spouse, do not respond, no matter how enraging they may be. As established above, text messages can easily be used against you, so your best bet is to play it safe and not respond.
- If you have already received threatening text messages from your spouse or ex-spouse, be sure to save them, print them out, and give them to your attorney. If you need further information as to the proper procedures regarding same, it is best to call your cell phone company's tech support for more information. They are usually very helpful in guiding you as to the methods of storing and uploading messages so that they can be printed out at a later time.
- Contact an attorney, who can help guide you as to the best ways of mitigating any issues regarding questionable text messages you may have sent, or alternatively, how to assist you in using text messages against your spouse in a divorce proceeding.
For more information as to your rights and responsibilities regarding the admissibility of text messages in Missouri family courts, it is best to speak with an attorney experienced in handling Missouri divorce cases. Our skilled attorneys are available now to assist you in your divorce case, no matter what the issue. Give us a call now so that we can help you get what you deserve in your case.