From call logs, to cabinet tower info, come sent and received text messages, numerous criminal investigations involve the components of a defendant’s cabinet phone. Under the Stored interactions Act, cabinet phone providers can provide a users cell call data come police throughout an active criminal investigation with a an easy court order (like a subpoena). However what about the actual content of text messages? have the right to the police or the prosecutor gain the actual content from those text messages with the very same court order?

Capital killing Conviction acquired After judge Admits content of message Messages

Recently, the Texas Court the Criminal Appeals thought about a capital murder (death penalty) case in i beg your pardon the State relied on text message evidence throughout trial. Throughout the trial, the state admitted (over defense objection) the materials of message messages sent and also received through the defendant. The messages established the defendant’s existence at the step of the murder and also implied his straight involvement. The state leaned top top this evidence during both its opening and also closing statements in the case. The defendant to be convicted of capital murder and also sentenced come death.

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The content of text Messages are Not extended by the Stored interactions Act

The appellant suggested on appeal the while the Stored communications Act enables the state come gain proof of message messages sent and also received, the does not permit the circulation of the content of those messages. The appellant suggested that the State must have acquired a find warrant donate by probable reason in stimulate to gain these records. The CCA agreed, illustration comparisons to the components of letters sent in the mail and also email save on computer on a server. Text blog post enjoy the very same reasonable expectation of privacy and should it is in protected.

The inquiry in Love v. State is whether Appellant had actually an Expectation the Privacy in his company Provider’s Records

LOVE v. STATE (Tex. Crim. Application – 2016), bulk Opinion

Judge Yeary penned the majority opinion in Love. The following excerpts space taken native the opinion:

Many courts have treated message messages as analogous come the content of an envelope conveyed v the United says mail…Admittedly, the analogy is no a perfect one…A letter continues to be in its sealed envelope till it arrives at the destination, and also the telephone agency does not on regular basis record personal telephone conversations. But internet and cell phone organization providers carry out routinely save the content of emails and also text messages, also if they carry out not necessarily take the time to read them…mpirical data it seems ~ to support the proposition that culture recognizes the propriety of assigning fourth Amendment protection to the contents of message messages…All the this leads us to conclude the the content of appellant’s text messages could not be obtained without a probable cause–based warrant. Message messages are analogous to continual mail and email communications. Like continual mail and also email, a message message has actually an “outside address ‘visible’ come the third-party carriers that transmit it come its to plan location, and also a parcel of content that the sender presumes will be read only by the plan recipient…Consequently, the State to be prohibited from compelling Metro computers to turn over appellant’s content-based communications without very first obtaining a warrant sustained by probable cause.

Finding the “the probable impact of the improperly-admitted message messages to be great,” the CCA then reversed the conviction and also remanded the case back to the attempt court because that a new trial.

TAKEAWAY: not all records have the right to be gained so quickly through a court order. Some call for a probably cause warrant. Is there a reasonable expectation that privacy in the message? It can take a brand-new analysis together our media is transforming daily, yet it can be worth the fight.

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Note: Presiding referee Keller dissented. She did not believe that the appellant preserved this problem for appeal.