Electronically Stored Information (ESI) Laws

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What is the Definition of “Electronically Stored Information”?

Electronically Stored Information, or “ESI”, is a term referring to certain types of information.  The legal definition of ESI is any type of information that is created, used, and stored in digital form, and requires a computer or other device for access.     

Electronic discovery laws make basically all forms of ESI “discoverable”, which means that the information can be used as evidence during trial.  Of course, police and other legal authorities must follow search and seizure regulations when obtaining electronically stored information from a suspect. 

If the ESI is lawfully seized, it can be admitted as evidence in court and is known as “electronic evidence”.

What are Some Forms of Electronically Stored Information?

Electronically Stored Information can come in a wide range of forms.  Some common types of ESI include:

Information obtained from cell phones or smart phones can also be used as evidence in a criminal court of law.  Furthermore, as technology advances and new forms of ESI are created, criminal laws will likely adapt to include new devices. 

What if I Don’t Want my ESI to be used in a Criminal Trial?

As mentioned, according to criminal procedure rules, basically all forms of ESI can be used as evidence.  However, there are certain instances where electronically stored information cannot be used as evidence in court. 

Circumstances where ESI may NOT be used as evidence in a criminal trial include:

If you feel that your ESI should not be used in court, you may wish to speak with an attorney for advice.  The ESI laws can vary from state to state and may be different depending on the nature of the information. 

Should I Talk to a Lawyer if I have Questions about Electronically Stored Information?

You may wish to contact a criminal attorney if you have any issues at all regarding electronically stored information.  Whether you are a defendant, witness, or are otherwise involved in a criminal case, it is possible for your ESI to be subject to investigation.  An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to give you advice regarding the confidentiality of your electronically stored information.   

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Last Modified: 09-29-2011 01:56 PM PDT

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