In short, yes, Tampa trial attorneys can use text messages as evidence as what are called an Admission By Party Opponent. Everyone has heard “objection, hearsay” in any sort of television crime drama, including, but certainly not limited to Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, Boston Legal, etc. In short, hearsay is any out of court statement being asserted for the truth of the matter. Generally, the easiest example is when person A says person B said something in court and the party admitting the evidence wants the statement to be taken as true.
Admission By Party Opponent is a small subsection of hearsay sliced out over the years of English Jurisprudence to essentially be considered for the truth of the matter. The logic behind it is that statements made by parties should be used against those parties. It ultimately reasons that parties would not make up and lie for no apparent reason. Our courts have accepted the fact that if a party makes up an admission that is a lie, the other party should have the opportunity to confront and cross-examine that party and impeach that party by other inconsistent prior statements.
The real difficulty in the admission of text messages or any sort of electronic media in that capacity truly lies in the storage of the records. For example, if a party seeks to admit just one text message out of an entire conversation, the other party would like to see what was sent prior and after that text message. Many judges in Florida may require the party under the “Rule of Completeness” to admit the entire conversation. The “Rule of Completeness” ultimately requires parties to admit an entire conversation. The fear obviously being that a party could take one response or part of a conversation out and admit it for one particular reason. Ultimately, twisting and altering the meaning, intent and context of that quote by failing to admit the entire conversation. For example, the admission of “yes” would certainly be a major deal in a case dealing with a contract. If one party alleged that the other party openly consented to changing the contract, and in fact attempted to admit the text message of “yes” to allege that the party agreed to change the contract. The other party would most certainly require the court to the “Rule of Completeness” to admit the entire context of the conversation.
The other issue concerning text messages is the manner in which they’re captured. For example, if a criminal defendant seeks to admit one text message, a crafty, trained Assistant State Attorney may ultimately require him to testify because of concerns about the capture of the text message and potential for manipulation. The criminal attorneys of Hackworth Law, P.A. utilize a criminal investigator to document text messages and other forms of electronic media to avoid potential issues where their client could be forced to testify. For example, if our investigator takes a photograph or a screen shot of a text message and we admit the photograph through him, it would prevent us from having to have our client testify.
If you or someone you know has questions concerning the admission of text message in a criminal, civil or family law setting, contact the Tampa Trial Attorneys of Hackworth Law, P.A. for a free case consultation. We have handled the admission of all sorts of unique evidentiary issues, including handwritten receipts from different bars, firearms, drugs, etc. We appreciate your time to consider our blog, if you have any other questions concerning the admission of text messages and/or other forms of electronic communication, please do not hesitate to utilize our Contact Us Now button on our website. We appreciate your time and attention in this matter.