Are Incriminating Text Messages between Spouses Admissible as Evidence in Trial?
According to the Pennsylvania appeals court, “text messages between a husband and wife may be used as evidence in the woman's child abuse trial.” This ruling came after defendant, Michele Renae Hunter, appealed the lower court's decision that the text messages between Hunter and her husband were admissible as evidence in Hunter’s child abuse trial.
Details Regarding the Trial:
Hunter and her husband, William, allegedly exchanged 119 text messages over a two-day period after Hunter supposedly brutally beat her 4-year-old stepson. According to ABA Journal, “many of the messages dealt with the boy's worsening medical condition.”
Both Hunter and her husband have been charged with “endangering the welfare of a child.”
Confidential Marital Communications:
Under the spousal communications privilege of confidential marital communications, both spouses may “prohibit disclosure of a confidential communication made during marriage in any civil or criminal case.” However, there is an exception to this rule. Communications are not privileged when the crime is against a spouse or a child.
Because this is a child abuse case, Hunter had no reasonable expectation that the text messages to her husband would remain private.
What do you think? Do you agree with the Pennsylvania appeals court's ruling?
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