If you’ve been questioned or charged with a crime, one of the first questions that may cross your mind is “How can cell phone forensics help in a criminal case?” There are a variety of answers to that question depending on your jurisdiction and state of residence. In general, there are only two ways to recover deleted text messages and phone numbers from a cellular device. If your suspect deleted the particular messages or numbers, you will not be able to access them.
The second method is for law enforcement or other officials to intercept the phone number or message and recover the information from the cellular device. This is not as easy as it sounds. In order to do this, the authorities must get a warrant signed by a judge. They cannot simply pull up a phone number at random and discover the information without a warrant. Moreover, the information must yield some type of evidence that will enable a conviction of the person of the crime. This is why it takes a long time to develop these investigations.
Another aspect of the question is, “What if the person who committed the crime wiped his cell phone with something such as a handkerchief.” Can law enforcement officials just quickly go in and physically remove the phone number and messages from a cellular device? Not likely. In fact, there are laws in place that prevent law enforcement officials from accessing private electronic devices without a warrant.
However, if a phone number or message is erased from the device before it can be recovered, can it still be accessed using the proper data recovery program? Not necessarily. If the operating system of the cellular device has been altered (for example, if a password was changed or the phone is configured to block data retrieval), the data cannot be retrieved. In this case, the smart phone forensic expert must be able to access the deleted data using an appropriate tool.
Can law enforcement officials simply ask a cell phone owner to turn over their phone number and address for them to obtain the information? Again, not likely. In most cases, the owner will not want to talk with a law enforcement officer, let alone give up their cell phone number and address. Additionally, the information may not be found on a computer.
How can cell phone forensics help in a criminal investigation? Sometimes all that is needed is a phone number. If a suspect is using a cellular device to communicate with the criminal offense, then the investigator can obtain the phone’s call log records, text messages, email logs, and other data. This information can often lead to a successful prosecution of the suspect.
How can cell phone forensic investigators determine which devices a caller is using during a call? There are several tools available for use by the investigator. One such tool is a cell phone lookup, which locates the cell phone call destination and displays a name and address. Another tool is known as a telephone trace, which works the same way as the online research tools. The investigator must compile this data with other data from the call itself and any contacts made.
How can cell phone forensics help in a criminal case? When a suspect is arrested, the law enforcement officer is usually accompanied by a private investigator. These professionals can use the gathered data to determine the identity of the caller. A skilled cellular phone forensics investigator can also work on plea bargains or discovery negotiations. The data can also be used as evidence in a court case. If a person is charged with a crime, there is no better way to gain admission of guilt than to present evidence against them using cell phone forensics.