Is it possible to retrieve the content of deleted text messages with a court subpoena?

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Is it possible to retrieve the content of deleted text messages with a court subpoena?

Asked on July 21, 2011 Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Only if you would have a right to them regardless of there being a lawsuit. So if, for example, it is your own email account, you would have a legal right to do this. Or if, for example, the email was sent via a company or business account, the company would have the right to retrieve the message. You would have no right to retrieve a message from another person's account. Otherwise, you'd need a subpoena, issued in the context of a civil case or criminal investigation; the message would have to be relevant; and the person, business, email provider, etc. may have grounds to go to court to object.

This, by the way, refers to the legal right to get the message: whether or not you can retrieve it as a practical matter is, of course, a different story.


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