Nevada Supreme Court Explains Admissibility Standards for IM / Text Messages

The criminal case of Kevin Rodriguez v. State of Nevada is one of three recent cases nationwide which discusses the admissibility of text messages in trial.

In Rodriguez, a victim was attacked, robbed, and her cell phone was taken.  Thereafter, twelve text messages were sent from the victim’s phone.  The case was brought against two defendants who were later apprehended in possession of the phone (which also had a picture of them in the phone which was taken after the assault).

Some quotes from the opinion:

* “Text messages offer new analytical challenges when courts consider admissibility.  However, those challenges do not require a deviation from basic evidentiary rules…”

* A person cannot be identified as the author of a text message solely on the evidence that the text came from that person’s phone.  Some additional evidence is required to authenticate.

* Circumstantial evidence corroborating the sender’s identity may include the context or content of the messages…

* Proponent of the evidence must explain the purpose for which the text message is being offered and provide sufficient direct or circumstantial corroborating evidence of authorship in order to authenticate…

* Once admitted, opponent may rebut authentication and it is for the jury to decide…

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