Can your cell phone conversations or text message conversations be subpoenaed?

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What is a Subpoena? 

A subpoena is a legal demand issued by a court of law. In plain English, that means that the State or the Defense are asking for documents (e.g. bank records, cell phone records, etc.). Subpoenas are important legal tools for lawyers and if not complied with can result in court-ordered penalties. 

How to Subpoena cell phone records

Over the past few years, cell phone records have become a linchpin in government prosecutions. In order to obtain a subpoena of telephone records, you must have a valid reason for requesting the information because federal laws prevent phone carriers from releasing private materials. Additionally, cell carriers regularly purge records (e.g. tower info, text messages, phone calls made, etc.) of their customers—depending on the company, records are kept for less than 3 months to several years). 

What do cell phone records show? 

Cell phone records are an important piece of evidence in court. These pieces of evidence show a lot of facts that can benefit your case. Cell phone records show the caller’s phone number, the duration of the call, the time of the call, and even the location of the phone due to which cell tower the phone was connected to.

Cellphone records may also show detailed information about text message conversations. The actual contents of the text message can generally be retrieved but the request must be made close in time to when the messages were sent. However, text messages are not to be confused with message formats like iMessage, WhatsApp, etc. which are encrypted.

Phones also produce data even when users are not actually engaged with the phone directly. Cell phones transmit data to cell towers constantly even if you are not on your phone; therefore, this activity can be misconstrued as a user actively using their phone. For example, just because a person received a call or text message does not mean they engaged with that notification, but the phone records will show activity on the phone. 

Experts may use cellphone data in many ways as it pertains to a particular legal incident. A cellphone’s data can be used to determine whether a user was actively engaged with their phone while they were not supposed to, like in a car accident situation. Data can also show if a person was really where they said they were during an incident. 

Cellular Telephone Subpoena Guide

Below you will find the necessary information to submit a Subpoena with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon & Dish Wireless

AT&T Wireless Subpoena Compliance Center:

  • 11760 US Highway 1, Ste. 600 North Palm Beach FL 22408
  • National Compliance: (888) 938-4715
  • Wireless: (877) 917-6093

T-Mobile Subpoena Compliance Department:

  • 4 Sylvan Way Parsippany, NJ 07054
  • (973) 292-8697

Verizon VSAT:

  • 180 Washington Valley Road Bedminster, NJ 07921
  • (888) 667-0028

Dish Wireless:

  • For subpoena information after July 1st, 2020

For a full breakdown of most carriers, please click here.

Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Arora Law firm, headed by veteran attorney Many Arora, has years of experience in criminal defense, white collar defense, and other areas of the law. Find out more about our team by clicking here. Contact us today by calling (404) 609-4664 or clicking here.

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