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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 102350
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Can illegally obtained photos be used as evidence in a child

Customer Question

Can illegally obtained photos be used as evidence in a child visitation proceeding?
For example. Can an ex spouse break into my residence, take photos of my meth lab, then submit those as evidence to the court? Stating that my residence is an unsafe environment
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

This is called admissibility of illegally obtained evidence in a civil case. The answer is - in Texas at least - is "no." Under Collins v. Collins, 904 S.W.2d 792, 799 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 1995, writ denied), in a custody dispute, the Court ruled that a recording obtained in breach of the law could not be used as evidence for the custody matter:

"Because the tapes were illegally obtained under the federal and state statutes, the trial court should not have admitted them into evidence on the issue of custody. The tape-recorded conversations were not admissible because the criminal statute dealing with the use of the intercepted communications criminalizes their dissemination, and the civil statute provides a method to prevent dissemination. To permit such evidence to be introduced at trial when it is illegal to disseminate it would make the court a partner to the illegal conduct the statute seeks to proscribe." Id.

While this deals with recordings, the precedent (arguably) expands to other evidence gathered illicitly.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.

Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.
Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never responded or replied positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!