Kansas Computer Crimes Criminal Defense
Computer Crimes Federal agents and local police frequently begin investigations by seizing home and business computers. Government forensic examiners then search the computers for incriminating evidence with programs like EnCase or Forensic Toolkit (FTK).
The amount of information that agents can find is mind-blowing. A file that was recently “deleted” can usually be found. Many times, examiners find years’ worth of internet history, including search terms, websites visited, and images that automatically download to your hard drive. They often can determine what files were recently viewed or played. Documents found on a computer often show revisions made as well as a time-line of all changes. Deleted emails and online chats can be often be recovered.
Peer-to-peer software, such as Limewire, KaZaA, and Frostwire, has become tremendously popular. These software programs allow users to share files, including music, movies, and pictures. While they are a convenient and easy way to obtain free downloads, they come with tremendous risk. A large percentage of files are misnamed. Users often “select all” files for download. Because of this, users can inadvertently download illegal child pornography. The default settings on the software can cause users to unintentionally distribute these illegal files to other users. The result is exposure to prosecution for distribution of child pornography, a crime that carries a minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and triggers lifetime sex offender registration.
As soon as your home or business computer is seized, you need an attorney who knows computer forensics as well as the law on computer searches. A knowledgeable attorney may be able to prevent the search of your computer or limit the scope of the search.
Our attorneys teach seminars on computer forensics and computer searches. Some of our attorneys have been trained on EnCase and FTK. We know how to prevent a broad search of a computer hard drive. We can suppress evidence found during an improperly executed search. We can effectively cross-examine a government forensic examiner. We can identify defenses that an attorney unfamiliar with computer forensics will simply miss. We know how to successfully defend charges of possession and distribution of child pornography in Kansas.
You may have watched Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator.” Police have too. Police stings aimed at internet solicitation of minors have become common in Kansas. If you are arrested for electronic solicitation of a minor, you need an attorney who knows computer forensics. Our attorneys’ knowledge of computer forensics enables them to ask the questions necessary to building an effective defense in your favor. Did police accurately preserve all communications? Usually not. Can the prosecutors properly authenticate and admit transcripts, emails, or other electronic data without a forensic examination? Often, they cannot. Did police go too far and create a crime where none would have otherwise existed? Usually. We know how to successfully defend charges of electronic solicitation of minors. We have obtained acquittal at trial, excluded evidence from trial, and convinced judges to impose sentences of probation. Some of these successes have been reported in the news.
Child Pornography Defense
Police across the country troll the internet looking for computers with illegal child pornography visible through Limewire or other peer-to-peer software. When a file is found, they obtain IP address information, get a search warrant, and seize all computers located at the residence where the computer containing illegal files is located. The fact that there are images of child pornography on a computer is just a starting point. Without more, the prosecution may have a difficult time obtaining a conviction. This reality is missed by most defense attorneys because they are not trained in computer forensics.
When executing a warrant, police are as focused on obtaining a confession as they are on seizing the computers. They attempt to elicit confessions because there are a great number of ways that child pornography can get on a computer. The mere presence of child pornography on a hard drive does not prove knowing possession of the images.
An attorney trained in computer forensics knows what to look for in building a defense. Can the government prove that the files were ever viewed, or were they merely part of a mass download of images? Were the images intentionally saved by the user, or were they automatically saved by the user’s internet browser? Maybe they were deleted and, thus, no longer “possessed.” These are just a few of the issues your attorney should consider.
Reports by government experts often omit important details. We have encountered reports that failed to mention the presence of thousands of legal images in the same folder, suggesting that the child pornography was accidentally downloaded. Sometimes, our investigations reveal that child pornography files have “last accessed” times identical to their “file creation” times – meaning the images were never viewed. We have found a fair number of cases in which investigators corrupted the data when seizing the computer, usually through the improper procedure of “previewing” the computer files at the residence.
You need to hire an attorney who understands computer forensics and recognizes these and other defenses. When interviewing attorneys, ask if they have attended any computer forensics courses. Your attorney does not need to be a forensic examiner, but he or she must be able to identify all possible defenses and effectively cross examine the prosecution’s expert.
Our attorneys have attended computer forensics training courses – the same courses the prosecution’s experts likely attended. Our attorneys understand the technology. We can identify relevant defenses and effectively defend charges of possession of child pornography in federal and state courts. Call us for a free consultation.