The Cheating Spouse's Digital Trail

If you’re familiar with criminal justice, you may be aware that many professionals in criminal law and law enforcement believe that criminals always leave some type of evidence of their crime. Similarly, cheating spouses are also in the habit of leaving behind evidence of their adulterous activities – it’s almost as if they’re trying to get caught – but they usually aren’t.

Almost every criminal leaves behind some sort of a clue of their crime, whether it’s fingerprints, DNA evidence (hair, saliva, skin cells, etc.), blood, carpet fibers, pet hairs, pieces of clothing and more. A cheating spouse does the same thing, especially because so many communications these days are electronic and leave digital evidence.

Digital evidence includes:

  • Emails
  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Text messages
  • Internet searches
  • Social media messages
  • Social media comments and posts

Most cheating spouses leave a digital footprint, which is how many of them get caught. Some cheating spouses are careless and the only measure they take to hide their affair is locking their spouse out of their smartphone. Meanwhile, others go great lengths to delete text messages, delete direct messages on Facebook and Instagram, and “accidentally leave their phone places” so their spouse doesn’t use GPS to locate them through their cellphone service.

When an innocent spouse discovers an affair through digital evidence, they’re like a first responder. Usually, what they’ll do is try to collect and preserve the digital evidence, but the question is, is this legal? In most instances, snooping can get you into legal trouble. This is because U.S. law believes people have a right to their privacy.

Can I Snoop on My Spouse’s Phone?

If a cheating spouse locks their husband or wife out of their cellphone, the innocent spouse is entering dangerous and illegal territory if they try to guess their spouse’s passcode, or if they try to “hack” it in any way. That’s an invasion of privacy and so is reading a spouse’s private social messages without their express permission.

So, now that you know that a cheating spouse’s cellphone is off limits in the legal sense, let’s take a look at how cheating spouses try to cover up their digital trail:

  • They delete text messages.
  • They delete social media messages.
  • They leave their phones in safe places so GPS can’t track them to bars, nightclubs, and other such places.
  • They use special apps to communicate with their paramours.
  • They use Snapchat to send racy pics.
  • They create secret emails to communicate.
  • They get a secret cellphone and have the bill sent to work or a PO Box.
  • They involve friends to help give them alibies.

Investigators and the FBI have spent thousands of hours interviewing criminals to learn why and how they committed their crimes. The same can be said for cheaters. Someone who had a long affair or a string of affairs can be a valuable resource on how they hid their infidelities from their spouse.

If you are suspicious that your spouse is having an affair and you believe there is digital evidence, we advise you to become educated on your spouse’s rights and protections under privacy laws. If you anger your spouse, you could end up facing criminal charges. If you’re planning on a divorce, speak with an attorney before you search for a digital trail.

To speak with a San Diego divorce lawyer for free, contact our firm today.