Communication Privacy Management and Digital Evidence in an Intimate Partner Violence Case

Fanny A. Ramirez, Jeffrey Lane


This article uses a case study of an intimate partner violence criminal case to examine the relationship among communication privacy management, evidence acquisition and retrieval, and the use of digital evidence in criminal court. We followed the case of Krista and Alex (pseudonyms) for a period of four months from August 2017 to November 2017. Data were collected from observations in two locations: the digital forensics laboratory of the public defender who handled the case and the courtroom in which the trial took place. Findings indicate that the couple engaged in preemptive and after-the-fact privacy management strategies, which complicated the process of acquiring digital evidence and had implications for how the evidence was used at trial. The case study joins communication privacy management and legal research to show why digital evidence falls short as a “model witness” and may expose female complainants to greater privacy turbulence than male defendants.


electronic communication, intimate partner violence, privacy, digital evidence

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