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.