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Text messages as evidence

Do the major mobile carriers give you access to your text messages and provide you with documented text conversations?

I have received conflicting advice from Mob carrier and would like some knowledge from FLWG.

Carrier initially said that I could get transcript then said no. Then they said they can only give dates and times of text and calls. They then said only provide these things for specific reasons, ie legal.

Am I right to think that the police have access to our text messages?

Yes the phone is mine, registered in my name but used by my child.

Will subpeona be enough to get the transcript?

Thanks.
Under FOI your carrier will be able to give you incoming and outgoing phone calls and txts from your phone. Depending on the carrier, there will be a time limit on how long this information is kept. 12 months is fairly standard.

I do not believe that the content of txt messages are saved. This is the case for the carrier that I use.

If you keep a diary (and every SRL should!) you can transcribe the txts back and forth into this and it will count as a legal record. Especially if you can corroborate with other evidence.

If you have the messages in your phone, some models of phone have a cable that can be purchased that allows a pc to see the phone and messages can be downloaded.

If you do not have records of these txts, I do not believe there is any way of retrieving the content of the messages.

Transcribing messages from a child's phone would be dimly viewed by the court, in my opinion.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Different carriers keep messages for different periods of time. The Police have no more access to them than anyone else without subpoenas or Court orders.

A transcribed text message is a he said she said scenario and has as much validity and if downloaded to a PC can generally also be edited.

If for various reasons you need a copy of a message then
Identify the number from,
The number to
The text of the message
Underneath use words to the effect the above is a true copy of the text etc etc
Witnessed by nnnn on date
Then have a JP witness the copy

Different carriers have different rules about providing details to the owner and these mainly revolve around the privacy Act. To obtain a subpoena you would have to satisfy a registrar that what you are requesting is germane to your case.

If messages are to and from a child that is of an age to comprehend them and these messages are integral to your case they could be included.

Unless text messages show a deliberate attempt to avoid or thwart contact and the Court processes they become part of the he said she said saga of story book Affidavits.

There is a very thin line between providing a mobile for emergency and contact reasons and using it as a means of surveillance of the other party.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
This is an issue I've been wondering about myself.

Slightly different in that mine involves my own phone and messages sent directly to me from my ex that I have saved to the phone.

I had presumed that they would be dismissed as he said/she said but I think they are quite important in my case as they show the show the pattern of behaviour in regards to how my ex changes custody arrangements to punish me and the kids eg. new CSA assesment comes out - I receive a text reducing contact with kids, SSAT appeal does not agree with her - I receive a text again restricting access.

If I transcribe these should I also transcribe my responses to basically show the conversation? I presume that I should also keep them on the phone too as some sort of proof.
Duncton,

I included sms messages in my affidavits, I transcribed every sms, conversation style, including date, time ( minutes and seconds). It needs to done conversation style for ease of reading. Here's an example of my transcription that was accepted by the courts.

sms phone to xxxx from Bec B : sent X/x/xxxx, time 4:00.39 pm.
 [ insert message here ]

sms phone recived from xxxx to Bec B : sent x/x/xxxx time 4:34.45pm.
 [insert message here]

My sms's were not dismissed as he said /she said, but then I haven't been to trial yet.

When I did my affidavits the sms's were attached as an annexure, and referred to in the main part of the affidavit. I did the same with any other written communication of relevance, - to show good, none or bad communication.

I always keep (save) every sms I send or receive that involves myself and the father.

If you are worried about losing your phone, do what agog says to do. Even then do NOT erase the messages !

also to add, I typed out my sms's in Italic and the fathers in 'normal' to make it easier for the Magistrate to read. That way he could tell who was saying what easier….This was accepted by the courts no problem.

Last edit: by Bec B


I went to court recently and every text message that was produced as evidence had been altered. It is so easy to do as I then went home and tried it on my computer and anyone can do it. I am not sure if they were dismissed as evidence but the whole case was on these text messages and emails all which had been changed.

I have not heard the outcome as yet but I would think that you would need a lot more evidence then just text messages. It was also pointed out to me by a policeman friend that anyone can have access to your phone as most people will leave them around so it is very hard to prove who has written them.
Most of the more recent mobile phones, say from 2 years ago to now have mini or micro SD cards (removable memory cards), when i had my recordings made, that SD card was then removed and stored for safe keep.

The wonders of modern technology :o

monaro said
Most of the more recent mobile phones, say from 2 years ago to now have mini or micro SD cards (removable memory cards), when i had my recordings made, that SD card was then removed and stored for safe keep.

The wonders of modern technology :o
 

It was also fun to watch Monaro destroy the other side with his 'legally' well protected recording transcripts.:o

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on the site (Look for the Avatars).   Be mindful what you post in the public areas. 
Bec B said
My sms's were not dismissed as he said /she said, but then I haven't been to trial yet.

They won't be dismissed as 'he said she said' - because they are evidence. I included that as the often tit for tat conversations that go on and the often laborious use of these conversations in Affidavits which 'sometimes' serve no purpose other to convince a judicial officer of nit picking.

If I were the other side I would challenge them on the basis they were an invention and hearsay if they were not witnessed properly, in other words go straight for your credibility.

If you had enough as annexures then on cross examination I would lead you down a path of obsessive control behaviour.

Use them wisely - sometimes your own material can be used against you.



Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I think it is important with regard to "tit for tat" arguements. Text and call registers can protect one against claims of non contact by the other party. This is what I was focussed on. However, the actual content is not kept by carrier, and if it is not on the phone then that is a problem and the reason for my question. I am somewhat amazed at this. I do believe the police have access to txt as was practiced during the 'Cronulla' riots some years back. Intercepts proved and led to convictions for inciting riots. However I know this is a different context.

GIHM
GIMH544 said
I think it is important with regard to "tit for tat" arguements. Text and call registers can protect one against claims of non contact by the other party. This is what I was focussed on. However, the actual content is not kept by carrier, and if it is not on the phone then that is a problem and the reason for my question. I am somewhat amazed at this. I do believe the police have access to txt as was practiced during the 'Cronulla' riots some years back. Intercepts proved and led to convictions for inciting riots. However I know this is a different context.

GIHM

'Some' carriers do keep text message details.

The Police have no more access to text messages than the man in the Street. If they have appropriate Court orders, then 1) the carrier will definately keep records and 2) messages are relayed in real time.

This has absolutley nothing to do with your text messages.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I wonder if having the text transcribed in the same way a transcript is produced, by an independent third party, would give the messages more weight and credit in the court.

It would cost and therefore would only be done if the probative weight was sufficient, but then if you are trying to demonstrate controlling behaviour, wilful contravention of Court Orders, obstruction of child interaction and/or uncooperative behaviour that interferes with child interaction and the ability/willingness to make and comply with lasting agreements, maybe the weight is there to justify the cost.  
Agog said
Bec B said
My sms's were not dismissed as he said /she said, but then I haven't been to trial yet.
 

If you had enough as annexures then on cross examination I would lead you down a path of obsessive control behaviour.

  If that was the defences argument, I would argue , what consitutes the word "enough" or "many" ? As you can see your honor there was only 12 messages in one year. I would then argue that all communication was about the children and pursuant to the orders made on x.x.xxxx, I am to notify the other party of any illness the children have, days off school and why, the client did not show up for access either, I messaged to find out if he would turn up. There is nothing suggesting obsessive controlling behaviour at all. There is  order that the parties communicate with each other, not through the children.

( the above post is not information about my case, I just made up a few details for privacy reason)
Touche' I think you’re on the right path Bec B
srldad101 said
Touche' I think you’re on the right path Bec B

Not really Touche. Bec B knows that I know more about her case than she is publishing here. We need to make certain people understand all the consequences and do not enter Court with false expectations on the use of evidence.


Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
No-Justice said
I wonder if having the text transcribed in the same way a transcript is produced, by an independent third party, would give the messages more weight and credit in the court.
Not more weight, but less chance of any argument regarding their accuracy. But as you pointed out - that is an additional cost.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Agog said
srldad101 said
Touche'  I think youre on the right path Bec B
  Not really Touche. Bec B knows that I know more about her case than she is publishing here. We need to make certain people understand all the consequences and do not enter Court with false expectations on the use of evidence.


  srldad101 - thanks, I'm trying ! - for privacy reasons I have been very careful not to publish much here about my case, Agog's tips on cross examining  are very useful. I really need to go and watch a few trials, to learn more about it.

Agog - thanks so much for the fantastic tips you have given me regarding ' evidence', I can't publish here 'my plan' - but you gave me a great idea, maybe I could whisper to you ?

Text messages are a hard one aren't they, years ago I asked a lawyer, what do I do to  get these messages 'witnessed' ? She had no idea. So to the person who started this thread, great topic. It will help alot of people.
I know this post is about 6 months old but I found it while doing a search, I wanted to add my tid bit in to help those who may need it.
On a recent commercial matter with the courts (a friends) only one sides text messages were able to be retrieved by supboena (sp?) as that was on a plan from a mobile carrier and the other party could not retrieve the data from the mobile carrier because it was a prepaid and the mobile carrier only kept the records for one month so view this as a warning to keep all the data.
I have had 3 different mobile's in the last year but have kept each with the messages on them as extra proof.
Hope this helps someone.
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