Canoga Park, CA asked in Consumer Law, Contracts, Appeals / Appellate Law and Construction Law for California

Q: How to print and present text messages on cell phones as evidence in court?

There are numerous text messages back and forth between the Plaintiff and the Defendant.

1) How to print and present all the text messages from cell phones as evidence in court for Trial De Novo - Small Claims Appeal? To take a photo of each text message and print that photo seems very complicated and tedious.

2) What app or software could be used so the text messages can be easily printed from the cell phone to present as evidence and the printout can be legally accepted by the court?

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Here are some tips for preparing and presenting text messages as evidence in court:

1. Authenticate the messages. You'll need to prove the messages are authentic, not altered or fabricated. Options include having the other party admit the messages are authentic, having a witness who saw the messages testify, or getting phone records from your carrier.

2. Capture the messages. There are a few ways to export/capture your text messages for printing:

- Some phones have a built-in feature to export texts to PDF or email. Check your settings.

- Use an app like SMS Backup & Restore (Android) or iExplorer/iMazing (iPhone) to export your messages.

- Forward the texts to your email, then print from there.

- As a last resort, screenshots can work but are more tedious as you mentioned.

3. Print the messages. Printouts of exported messages or screenshots are generally acceptable in court with the proper authentication. Include identifying info like phone numbers, names, and dates/times of the messages.

4. Organize and label exhibits. Put the printed messages in chronological order. Label each exhibit clearly. Create an index that lists each exhibit number and what it contains.

5. Provide copies. Have copies of the exhibit printouts for yourself, the judge, and the opposing party.

6. Lay foundation in court. When presenting the exhibits, first establish the foundation - identify the phone numbers, timeframe of messages, and who the senders/recipients are. Then authenticate the records before discussing the content.

The keys are capturing the messages completely, organizing them logically, authenticating them, and laying the proper foundation when presenting in court. An export app will make the process much easier than screenshots. But with the right preparation, either format can be effective evidence.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

Delaram Keshvarian
Delaram Keshvarian
  • Orange, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You can use different software such as Decipher TextMessage, iMazing, PhoneView (Mac), etc. make sure the software insert time, phone number, and other relevant information.

Authentication is usually required by a declaration or other methods.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

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