We have the capacity to save a number of things with our smart phones. For instance, we can screenshot conversations, text messages, social media posts and even pictures. We can also record phone calls, share voicemails and take videos of the things going on around us.
Often, a cell phone can be used secretively to capture or record another person’s actions without the subject knowing he or she is on video. In many domestic violence cases, both sides often try to use these recorded videos and images from one person’s cell phone as evidence to build and prove their cases.
Because this type of evidence is becoming so common as more and more people have advanced smart phone technology at their fingertips, the New Jersey courts have been trying to come up with standard guidelines for providing evidence from a cell phone.
An Ocean County judge’s ruling requires that any cell phone evidence must be submitted to the court in tangible form, either as a printout for images and conversations, or a CD or flash drive, which should be used for videos. Providing hard evidence eliminates complications related to procedural requirements or logistics — it’s easier to share a flash drive or a printed text exchange than it is to pass a person’s phone around. Additionally, once a document or image has been printed and saved, it makes it a little more difficult to tamper with.
However, it does take time to upload a video or conversation records to a flash drive or burn them onto a CD, and domestic violence case defendants and plaintiffs should both be advised of this requirement before their court date, according to the ruling from Superior Court Judge Lawrence Jones in E.C. v. R.H.
In that case, the plaintiff was trying to bring a final restraining order against the defendant whom she had previously dated. The evidence for the order was proof of voicemails, text messages and social media messages that were abusive and profane in nature. The judge adjourned the case for one week to give both parties time to produce hard copies of the evidence they had on their phones.
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act states that final hearings for domestic violence cases must be held within 10 days of a report of abuse; but in the case above, special circumstances made it possible to adjourn for a week, according to Jones’ ruling.
The court required texts, emails, social media messages and photos to be printed out on paper with page numbers in the lower right corners and each piece of evidence should be submitted in triplicate. Because of the specific requirements, the judge felt that extra time should be made available so that each party had sufficient ability to gather their information.
Be Prepared for Court
At Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, our New Jersey family lawyers represent anyone who has been charged with domestic violence or who is involved in a family dispute. It’s important that you present the evidence to support your case in accordance with the court’s requirements in order to make a clear and compelling case for yourself. We are prepared to help you meet those requirements. For more information, contact HCK today.