Electronic Evidence: The Rule on Admissibility of Electronic Evidence in Court

Electronic evidence is evidence that is stored electronically rather than in physical form. Examples of electronic evidence include text messages, email and documents. This article explains what it is and how it can be used to help a criminal case.

Electronic evidence has become an increasingly important part of the modern legal system. It is used to help solve crimes, convict criminals and even help the court decide the outcome of a case.

Electronic evidence is usually the result of an investigation. Investigators are often looking for clues to a crime that has occurred. They may be looking for information on the suspect’s whereabouts or they may be looking for evidence that will be used to convict the suspect of a crime. There are a variety of ways that investigators can find this information.

For example, they can search through the suspect’s cell phone or computer to find evidence. They may also have someone who is a witness to the crime take a picture of the suspect’s car with their smartphone and then send the photo to the investigator. Electronic evidence can be used to help solve crimes or it can be used against a suspect in court.

In this article, we will explain what electronic evidence is and how it is used.

What is Electronic Evidence?

Evidence is anything that can prove or disprove a claim. For example, if a person claims that they were not involved in a crime, they can present some evidence to prove that they did not commit the crime. This evidence can be either physical or digital evidence.

Digital evidence includes things such as text messages, emails, photos, videos, etc.

Physical evidence includes things such as fingerprints, blood samples, and DNA samples. These can all be used to help solve a crime or convict a criminal.

When a court examines whether or not the defendant committed a crime, they will look at all the available evidence. The prosecution may call witnesses to talk about the events surrounding the crime.

Electronic evidence is anything that uses electrical signals. This includes computers, smartphones, tablets, iPods and other gadgets that use electricity. The word “electronic” just means that it uses electricity. This includes data that is stored on computers, emails, pictures, videos, sound files and other information.

Some of this information might be in the form of text or numbers, but it can also be in images, sounds or other formats. All these forms of information are considered to be electronic. Electronic evidence is different from physical evidence. Physical evidence is things such as guns, bullets and blood that were involved in the crime. It can be used to help prove someone’s guilt.

Types of Electronic Evidence


Data is information that can be stored in computers. These days, almost everything that happens on the internet is considered to be data. Emails and chat sessions on websites are examples of data. This data can be saved on hard drives, memory cards and other storage devices.

Computer data is stored in files. This includes folders that can be found on desktop computers, laptops and tablets. The files are usually named after the date and time they were created. Computer files can be read using special software called an operating system. The programs that run these operating systems are called applications. Different types of data include:

Data can be numbers, letters or other symbols that represent information about the world. For example, data can include credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information.


Images are two-dimensional representations of things, places or events. They can be photographs, drawings, diagrams, maps, movies or other visual representations of things.


Audio is a representation of sounds. It can be voice recordings, songs, music or other sound.


Video is a recording of moving pictures. It can be pictures, video clips or movies.


Email messages contain text and photos. They are commonly exchanged by friends and family. Emails are usually saved for later reference.

Cell Phone Records

These are records of calls made and received by cell phone. They can be used to help prove that someone was at a particular place at a certain time.

Text Messages

These are messages that are sent via text. They can also be sent using email. Text messages can also be stored for later reference.

Social Media

Facebook: Facebook is a social media website that allows its users to interact with each other. It has over 2 billion active users.

Skype – Skype is an online program that allows its users to make free voice and video calls to other Skype members. 

Other: Other refers to all forms of electronic media that are not mentioned above.

There are many kinds of electronic evidence. This is a list of some examples of electronic evidence. Computer hard drives contain files that can be accessed by the police or other people. Computers can be used to store large amounts of data. Smartphones can store emails, pictures and messages.

The Internet contains billions of web pages that can be searched for by the police or other people. Cameras can be used to record events. Police officers often use video cameras to record evidence.

GPS devices can be used to track the locations of suspects. Cell phones can be used to make calls and send messages.

The use of electronic evidence is governed by the rules set out in the law. Some laws apply to everyone. 

Why is Electronic Evidence Important?

In the recent years, electronic evidence has become very important.

  • It is used in many cases. For instance, it is used in courtrooms to prove or disprove statements made by witnesses.
  • It is also used in police investigations to locate the locations of crimes and the perpetrators of crimes.
  • It is used by the police in order to protect children from abuse.
  • It is used by the courts in order to prevent false accusations.
  • It is also used by the government in order to monitor the activities of people who are suspected of being terrorists.

The use of electronic evidence helps to solve crimes. This is because most criminals will hide things that they don’t want to get caught doing.

What Laws Govern Electronic Evidence?

There are several rules for dealing with electronic evidence. These rules include the following:

  • The best evidence rule states that the original document is the best evidence of its contents.
  • The chain of custody rule states that the person who has custody of the evidence must have had control of it at all times.
  • The authentication rule states that a witness may testify about the authenticity of the evidence.
  • The hearsay rule states that out-of-court statements cannot be admitted as evidence unless they fall under a specific exception to the hearsay rule.

The Fourth Ammendment and Electronic Evidence

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the rights of citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment protects the right of privacy and the right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures.

The Amendment also guarantees that no one can be deprived of life, liberty, or property except by due process of law. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in certain places, and therefore, the government needs to obtain a warrant from a judge or magistrate to search these places.

By dint of the Fourth Ammendment therefore, law enforcement can only seize and search one’s electronic device or extract evidence from one’s electronic devices only with a valid warrant informed by probable cause. 

Notably, the law alllows for warrantless searches with sufficient justifications paramount of which is reasonable suspicion and probable. The fourth ammendment proptects one from “unreasonable searches”. 

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act

(ECPA) was passed by Congress in 1986 to regulate the collection and disclosure of electronic communications. The act was amended by the USA Patriot Act in 2001 to include the requirement for a warrant to obtain email and other types of electronic communication. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) prohibits the disclosure of stored electronic communications and requires a warrant to obtain stored electronic communications.

In 1998, Congress passed the ECPA, which extended the original definition of “stored” communications to include electronic messages stored in the computers of both commercial and residential users. This made the ECPA the first federal law to apply to communications stored on servers located in different jurisdictions.

The Patriot Act

The Patriot Act expanded the number of crimes that required a warrant to search electronic devices and electronic records. There were four crimes that require a warrant for a search and the new ones are as follows:

  • A warrant is required to search for the contents of any electronic device.
  • A warrant is required to search any electronic records that store data from any electronic device.
  • A warrant is required to obtain the location information of the user of a cell phone.
  • A warrant is required to obtain the location information of the user of a personal digital assistant.
  • A warrant is required to obtain the phone records of a business.
  • A warrant is required to obtain the call detail records of a business.

The Patriot Act did not necessarily change the Fourth Amendment and/or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), but clarified that the amendments applied to electronic communications as well. The law is aimed at protecting people from warrantless searches and seizures and to protect privacy and confidentiality.

The amendments were meant to prevent warrantless spying. The amendments were intended to cover emails, Internet web browsing history, and voice mail. However, the amendments only protect electronic communications that are stored on servers.

Admissibility of Electronic Evidence: What Are Some Factors for Determining if Evidence is Admissible?


The genera rule is that all relevant evidence is admissible. The rule is very broad. In other words, it means that any evidence is admissible that has a bearing on the case. This includes evidence that tends to prove a fact in dispute, but it can exclude evidence that is merely prejudicial. It also excludes evidence that is irrelevant.

It is the duty and discretion of the court to determine what is relevant and what is not. The court determines relevance based on the Federal Rules of Evidence, which were created to control the admission of evidence in federal court. Relevant evidence is usually admissible unless there are specific rules about how it can be admitted. The government has to show that the evidence is relevant to prove a particular fact in dispute.

Exceptions to the Relevance General Rule of Admissibility of Evidence

Evidence is generally not admissible if it doesn’t satisfy one of the exceptions listed below:

  • The evidence is hearsay. Hearsay is testimony from someone who saw or heard something that was told to him by someone else.
  • The evidence violates a privilege. A privilege is an individual right to keep information confidential. For example, a doctor might have a medical privilege to keep patient records private.
  • The evidence is too prejudicial. Prejudice means unfairness in the outcome of a trial. It may be used to mean that the evidence is too confusing for the jury or that it would encourage them to decide the case based on emotion instead of facts.
  • The evidence is irrelevant.

Evidence that is irrelevant to the case is generally inadmissible, but the court can decide to admit it if it finds that it has some probative value. 

What are the Benefits of Electronic Evidence?

There are many benefits of electronic evidence.

  • Electronic evidence is a great way to preserve data because it doesn’t degrade over time. Electronic evidence is also easier to access and can be stored in a variety of places. It can be stored on computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc. Electronic evidence is easier to store and retrieve than paper documents.
  • Electronic evidence is more secure than paper documents because it can be password protected.
  •  Electronic evidence can be collected and stored in a variety of ways, including by email, phone, or other communication systems.
  • Electronic evidence is highly transportable. It can be easily moved from one place to another without any problems.
  • Electronic evidence can be shared through a variety of mediums, including email, web sites, and social media.

What are the Drawbacks of Electronic Evidence? 

Electronic evidence is often used in court cases to prove guilt. But there are a number of drawbacks to using electronic evidence in court:

  • First, it can be easily manipulated. If you take a picture of something and then delete it, it will no longer show up in the picture.
  • Second, it can be altered. If you change a file on your computer, it will no longer be the original file.
  • Third, it can be destroyed. If you copy a file to another location, you will lose the original file. 
  • Fourth, it is not always accurate and can be tampered with. If you use a password to protect a file, anyone who knows the password can access the file.
  • Fifth, it can be forged. If you use a digital signature to prove that you own a document, someone who knows how to forge a digital signature can create a fake document.
  • Sixth electronic evidence is extremely difficult to collect and store. The information is stored in a volatile memory that is easily erased. This makes it very easy to destroy or tamper with the evidence. It is also very easy to hide evidence in other electronic devices.
  • The Seventh disadvantage is that electronic evidence is extremely difficult to preserve. This is because there is no paper trail.

The above drawbacks point towards one major drawback of electric evidence, Reliability.Electronic evidence is not as reliable as paper evidence. This is because a lot of digital information can be altered. A picture on a hard drive can be changed, a video can be deleted, and a document can be altered. This means that it is very difficult to prove that a particular piece of information came from a certain device or person.

How Do You Collect Electronic Evidence?

There are several ways that you can collect electronic evidence.

  • You can record conversations using a recording device such as a microphone.
  • You can also use a camera to capture images on your computer. You can do this by connecting the camera to your computer.
  • You can then download the images or videos onto your computer.
  • You can ask the court to subpoena computers, phones, emails or files domiciled in an electronic device.
  • Through a warrant, the law enforcement can seize and present electronic evidence in court.

If you are taking photos or recording videos, make sure that you have permission from the people in the pictures or videos. This is a good way to document anything. You should also try to get permission from the people that you are recording. You should be careful to not violate their privacy or property rights. This means that you should ask the people if they are okay with you taking their picture or video.

 You can also make use of computer forensic experts to retrieve deleted files from a computer. If you are worried about privacy, you should consider using the computer forensic experts to remove deleted files from your computer. 

How Do You Analyze Electronic Evidence?

Electronic evidence is analysed and verified by computer forensic experts to find out whether or not it is real or fake.

Computer forensic experts look for details like the time when the information was created, the location where the information was stored, what kind of files were saved, and whether the information was modified or not. A computer forensic expert can also retrieve deleted files from your computer.

Data analysis is also used to find out the meaning of data. You can do this by studying the metadata. Metadata is information that can be found on a piece of electronic evidence. For example, the file name, the size, and the creation date are all types of metadata. You can use this metadata to learn about the owner of the file, when the file was created, and where it was stored. Data analysis is helpful when you are trying to find out the meaning of the data.

What are the Rules for Using Electronic Evidence in Court?

The rules for using electronic evidence are the same as the rules for using physical evidence. For example, the evidence must be relevant and it must be authenticated.

The electronic evidence must be obtained legally. This means that you cannot search a person’s phone without a warrant. You also cannot hack into someone’s phone or computer without their permission and use it in court. 


How Can Electronic Evidence Be Used Against Me?

Electronic evidence can be used against a person in a court of law. The main purpose of electronic evidence is to help to prove a person’s guilt or innocence in a court of law.

Electronic evidence can be used to help a criminal as well as a civil case. It’s important to understand the difference between the two types of evidence, as the type you’ll use will depend on what you’re looking for.

Text messages: Text messages are an example of electronic evidence. They can be used to prove that you were in contact with someone and details of your communication in line with the matter in issue.

Emails: Emails can be used to prove that you sent or received a message as well as the content and intent of the communication. Service of court document and communication can be proven through electronic evidence. 

Documents: Documents can be used to prove that you were involved in a crime or a transaction. 

Should I Get an Attorney if the Law Enforcement Has Seized Electronic Evidence?

Yes. If the police have seized electronic evidence, you should consult with a lawyer. If you are accused of committing a crime, you should make sure that you are represented by a lawyer. Your lawyer can help you understand the law and how the evidence was obtained. This will enable you to decide if you should contest the evidence and if so, how you should do it. For instance, you may want to contest the search warrant that was issued to the law enforcement agency. You may want to file a motion to suppress the evidence or a motion to return the property.


In conclusion, the electronic evidence can be used to prove things such as identity, location, and time. In the past, the police would have to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove these things. With the introduction of technology, this has changed. With the help of electronic evidence, the police can find out information about a person’s life through his or her electronic communications.

There are several methods of getting electronic evidence, including subpoenaing the email account of the accused, and the phone records of the accused or search through a warrant.

However, it is important to know that there is a limit to how much the prosecution can ask for. The rule on electronic evidence is that the prosecution must show that the evidence is relevant and material, and that the defense has had an opportunity to cross-examine the witness.

Electronic evidence evidence can be used in court cases to prove or disprove that a certain event happened. It is usually considered more reliable than other forms of evidence, such as physical evidence. However, there are some issues with electronic evidence. For example, it can be destroyed or modified by the defendant. It may also be difficult to find the defendant’s original data.

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