How Can An Attorney Help You With Your Child Pornography Case?
Interviewer: This next one is a very general question. You’ve given some examples of it, but just for the sake of the Q and A format, how can a lawyer help me with my pending case? What strategies do you take?
Paul Cramm: First and foremost, we do want to have a forensic examination performed on any computer seized from my client’s residence, or from his possession. I typically use Guardian Digital Forensics. They are preeminent and nationally recognized. Their examiners are very familiar with the agents at the regional forensics computer laboratory here in Kansas City. The technicians from Guardian come in and out of our regional laboratory with great frequency.
I want to have an independent examination of the computer. That’s first and foremost. Let’s figure out digitally and forensically what we are dealing with. There are so many available defenses as to how a certain file or piece of data may have found its way onto a computer. That’s first and foremost. Additionally, I want to know from my interview with my client as well as the report from Guardian where the images came from. Did they come from a website that pretends to be a lawful website with the federal disclaimer? If that type of disclaimer is present on the site where the images came from, and it’s a matter of a very physically mature 16- or 17-year-old girl who could easily pass for 22, there may be a knowledge and intent defense there.
I want to know where the images came from and what one would reasonably think or believe when visiting that site. I want to know if my client’s home network is Wi-Fi, as opposed to a hardwired system. A lot of people have Wi-Fi so that they can carry their tablet or laptop all over the house and work with it. If there’s a Wi-Fi location, does my client use a password? Is it secure or unsecured?
Certainly there are very well-known incidents where a purveyor of unlawful material will just browse a very nicely developed upper middle class neighborhood with his Wi-Fi on to see what all available Internet connections are sent by an open Wi-Fi. You look for one that is not password-protected. You log on to a non-password-protected Wi-Fi account from someone’s residence, which you can do from 30 to 40 feet away. The person can have an absolute holiday, downloading God knows what.
In a case like that, I think feds would be knowledgeable when they take every piece of equipment out of the house and none of the images are found on the equipment in the house. Certainly this type of type of Wi-Fi connection is an issue, especially now that we have so many people whose high school and college age kids and their friends are coming in and out of the home at all hours. What if somebody’s friend came over with a wireless laptop or tablet, accessed the residential Wi-Fi account at the client’s home, downloaded a whole bunch of information, and left? We really need to look at that as well.
Interviewer: That’s a good relevant point. I had a friend that would sit outside my house just to use my Wi-Fi so he could do job searches. I do have an unsecured network. It makes it easier for many devices that I use. Even when I didn’t have Wi-Fi, when I needed to use Wi-Fi, there are areas like a motel that you can sit by, or coffee shops – those things. That brings up a good point. Is that a new realization that something could totally make a case dismiss after a while?
Paul Cramm: It can. I think, once again, a lot of that will depend upon if agents have done a complete examination of thumb drives, flash drives, laptops, tablets, towers, you name it. Agents have seized every piece of equipment in the house, and none of the equipment contains the images or files that would satisfy the definition of the statute. They know that access to a known child pornography website occurred from the listed IP address. Then absolutely, if there’s a Wi-Fi account at that address, that would create an enormous hurdle for the prosecution to clear.
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