Any criminal and family law attorney knows one true fact: our client’s cell phones contain a ton of information that is either really helpful or really bad evidence. The iPhone, and other smartphones like it, have created a world of convenience and a wealth of knowledge about people. They have allowed us to communicate easily with anyone in the world at any time. They have allowed us to get directions to our destination on the fly, track our steps, and provide other immediate forms of entertainment. They are also storing a lot of information that can be used against us in exchange for the convenience they present.
Rarely are consumers ever fully informed as to the privacy rights they are giving away by the use of their cell phone and how that could be harmful to them later. Criminal defense and family law lawyers have seen an increasing trend in the use of cell phone evidence. Below are the top five reasons that you should be more aware of what you’re using your cell phone for.
- Phone Calls and Text Messages can and will be subpoenaed. The actual conversations of phone calls cannot be recorded by the cellphone carrier (Be mindful that Missouri is a one-party consent state, thus, the person on the other end of the call may be recording) but the number called, time of call, and date and time of the call are all information that could be provided. Dates, times, and contents of text messages could be subpoenead and provided by cell phone carriers.
- Many apps track your location. If you have a device that has location tracking enabled and any app is tracking your location, that could be used against you in a civil or criminal case to show where you were at and when you there. As the technology advances, they may even be used to tell how fast you were traveling at a particular time.
- Saved photos and videos may also be requested from your phone and used in court proceedings.
- E-Mails may provide additional information as to who you were communicating with about a particular subject and when.
- Internet browsing history and social media apps on cell phones also provide additional areas for the storage of incriminating evidence to be used in either civil or criminal trials.
Next time you pick up your cell phone to send a message or use it for any other purpose, think about your privacy expectations (or lack thereof). Law enforcement is becoming increasingly sophisticated at finding many types of incriminating information on cell phones. Before you send that next text message think about whether or not you would want the whole world to see that message. Lawyers are becoming more advanced at asking for and admitting text messages in divorce and order of protection trials.
In short, cell phone technology has become both friend and foe. Let it work to your advantage by using it more intelligently and productively.