How the Police Get Your Text Messages

CYMERA_20130829_142314.jpgText messaging is one of the primary methods of modern communication. It is a relatively simple process that is convenient for both the sender and recipient. Even though text messaging is thought of as a private written conversation, text messaging is not as secure as you may believe. This is especially concerning if you may have some inappropriate text messages on your phone regarding marijuana consumption, which is a crime that police officers keenly investigate. Even though you may believe that your private conversations should be protected, the laws protecting your privacy are not as strong as you may believe they are.

Let’s begin with the basics of text messaging. A text message is a written communication that lands in four locations: it begins in your phone, is then sent to a short message center (SMC), which transfers the data to your service provider’s network, and ultimately lands in the recipient’s phone. Because the data lands in the hands of a third party, namely your phone service provider, it loses much of the privacy protections that a normal communication would have, like a written letter that is in an envelope in your desk.

There are two types of cell phone service providers: electronic communication services (ECS) and remote computing services (RCS). (Katharine M. O’Connor, 😮 Omg They Searched My Txts: Unraveling the Search and Seizure of Text Messages, 2010 U. Ill. L. Rev. 685) If your carrier is an ECS, then the government has to get a warrant to search any electronic communications within 180 days (after which the government only needs a subpoena). If your carrier is labeled a RCS, then the government does not need a warrant, but only needs a subpoena. For example, Verizon Wireless’ electronic communications are obtainable through a subpoena, but the electronic communications are only available for 10 days (request has to be made within this window).

In other words, the government can search your text messages without a warrant and without your knowledge under certain circumstances. It is possible that with a simple subpoena, the government can inspect and intrude into your life without you knowing. Your text messages to your friends about “smoking a joint” or “getting some weed” are not protected. Beware.

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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301.

Drug Related Charges may include: Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Dangerous Drug, Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Delivery or Intent to Deliver Marijuana/Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and many other drug related charges.