The ubiquity of texting in everyone's lives raises the stakes for Pennsylvania residents involved in domestic violence cases. Whether someone is defending against an accusation of domestic violence or the victim of domestic violence, what the parties say in their text messages can have significant implications in their domestic violence legal proceedings.
Text Messages Can Be Used as Evidence in Domestic Violence Cases
In Pennsylvania, domestic violence is a broad term that includes acts of violence or abuse between members of a household, an extended family, or current or former spouses or sexual partners. Stalking, harassment, direct threats, and other behavior that cause the victim to fear harm can all constitute domestic violence. Under Pennsylvania law, electronic communications such as text messages can be used as evidence in these cases.
Text Messages May Constitute Domestic Violence or Show a Pattern of Harassment and Abuse
A text message that contains a direct threat to a victim may constitute domestic violence under Pennsylvania law, as can a series of texts that demonstrate a pattern of harassment or abuse. Texts may also provide information regarding the nature of the relationship between the parties and context for how they normally tend to communicate with one another, which can help a court or jury decide the merits of a case.
In addition, Pennsylvania domestic violence victims are often protected by Protection from Abuse orders (PFAs), which prevent communication between the victim of domestic violence and the perpetrator. Contacting the victim via text message can violate a PFA and result in serious consequences for the person sending the texts.
Text Messages Can Be Used to Defend Against Domestic Violence Allegations
People who have been accused of domestic violence can use text messages to defend against the allegations against them. A defendant may want to introduce texts they've sent to their accuser or texts they've received from their accuser.
For example, if a text message that forms the basis of a domestic violence action has been taken out of context, the defendant might introduce other texts that show the totality of the situation or conversation to disprove baseless or erroneous allegations.
A domestic violence defendant may also want to introduce into evidence text messages that show that they were acting in self-defense.
The Lento Law Firm is a Valuable Advocate in Domestic Violence Actions
Attorney Joseph Lento and the Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm have many years of experience representing clients in domestic violence cases and family law matters throughout Pennsylvania. They can help anyone involved in a domestic violence case show the real import of the text messages they've sent or received, and work with them to craft an effective legal strategy to ensure their rights are protected. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686, or submit a confidential online consultation form.