Middletown, PA asked in Criminal Law for Pennsylvania

Q: Can a cop get my phone records when they just arrest my boyfriend. can they arrest on text messages

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brian Fishman
Brian Fishman
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Your question is short & vague but if I understand involves two unique issues which are fairly complicated. The first issue is whether police can get your phone records when arresting your boyfriend: The cops can't subpoena your personal phone records without getting a warrant to obtain them. And, to get the warrant, they need probable cause that some crime is being committed & your phone records are relevant & related to that crime such that they're needed for evidence. But, you may be asking whether police can get your phone records from your boyfriend's phone? If that's the question, again police need a search warrant to search your boyfriend's phone even if they arrest him with it on him. They can't simply search the phone's contents because it was on him when arrested. However, if they violated his rights and did search the phone, you would likely not have legal standing to have any evidence obtained from the phone suppressed or kept out of court because they did not violate your privacy, they violated your boyfriend's when they illegally searched his phone.

The second question is "Can they arrest on text messages?": Again, it's very vague & I'd really need to know in what context but you seem to be asking whether introducing either text messages written by your boyfriend to you or someone else is enough to convict him of some type of threats or harassment. Am I on the right track? If so, there's a concept in criminal law called "corpus", which means "body of the crime" (like a corpse), where police must first prove that a crime was committed before they can introduce a statement made by the defendant bin other words, a confession or other statement can not be the sole evidence used to convict someone as people often give false confessions. So, police must provide other evidence such as a victim testifying that your boyfriend did or said something to them before they could introduce his text messages that may support or corroborate the witness' testimony. The law is really just starting to develop around cell phones and text messaging because there are so many ways to spoof text messages and the cops have a hard time proving who the sender of a text was, even if it came from the defendant's phone. So, there are all types of issues in this area.

I hope my answer assumed some of the right facts and gave you a glimpse at some of the issues relevant to your boyfriend's case. If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Brian M. Fishman



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