Steve Thomas Heisler was convicted of sexual harassment. He started dating the victim back in 2010. They had a relationship that lasted three years. In 2014, the woman started a new relationship. She asked Steve to stop contacting her. Steve ignored this request and continued to contact her. She did not respond to the text messages.
In December 2014, Steve traveled from Florida to Colorado and visited the woman at her home. The woman called the police. Steve was arrested and charged with stalking and harassment. The case eventually went to court, and Steve was acquitted of stalking. However, he was found guilty of harassment. Steve was able to appeal because he stated that the text messages were not properly authenticated under CRE 901 (a).
Before text messages are used as evidence, they have to be authenticated by the party who presents it. Lansing civil rights attorneys have stated that there are two levels of authentication required for print outs from social networking sites. First, the person must prove that the messages actually came from the website. The identity of the sender must also be authenticated by meeting one of the following criteria: 1.) The account in question is registered to the sender. 2.) There is evidence that the sender used the account. 3.) The communication is from the sender. 4.) The sender communicated in a way that proves he or she was the person who sent the messages. 5.) Any other evidence that can be used to authenticate the text messages.