Internet Crime/ Sexual Misconduct

Jeffrey H. Garland has extensive experience in defending charges based upon the use of computers and the internet, as well as other allegations of sexual misconduct. Depending upon the type of crime charged, the computer or smart phone may be a repository of information which may be used to disprove some or all of the police allegations. In other cases, the use of the internet is a key part of the evidence. In yet other cases, there is an overlap between the internet and the computer, such as e-mail, instant messaging and remote accessing technology (RAT).

In choosing a St. Lucie Internet Crime Defense Lawyer for computer and internet related crimes, it is important to consider whether the attorney has experience in similar cases. In today’s world, computer and internet evidence interface with many different types of cases – even if the charge does not strictly involve criminal use of the computer or the internet. The attorney should know the principles of computer evidence preservation and retrieval.

Garland has used experts who have special knowledge in various areas of computers and the internet. Such special knowledge allows an expert to give an opinion about a particular issue – as long as the matter is within that expert’s particular area of competence. Just because a police expert may be knowledgeable about one aspect of a computer examination, such as the En Case software, does not mean that the same expert may be competent to testify about the Windows operating system, Microsoft Explorer, or the inner workings of security software.

No computer is completely safe from “hacking”, as long as it is on and hooked up to the internet. Unscrupulous persons can enter a computer in a variety of ways. Some individuals or organizations insert unwanted “pop-ups”, banners or other types of advertisements without the consent of the computer operator. On some occasions, nefarious individuals or organizations attach spyware to legitimate-appearing web sites or information. Just because information or images appear on a computer, does not mean that the computer operator expressly placed them onto the computer. In fact, such nefarious data may have been placed on the computer without any knowledge or intent on the part of the computer operator.

Computer operators may access their “home” computers from anywhere in the world using RAT software. Unscrupulous persons can use this same software to invade another person’s computer without authority. A person charged with a computer crime should not assume that they are guilty just because information is found on the computer. It must first be demonstrated how and when the information was placed on the computer, and that the person suspected of wrongdoing knew it was there. It may also be significant whether the computer operator had the ability to access the questioned data.

Windows Explorer will automatically remember web sites, images, e-mail, etc., viewed by the computer operator or which comes across the internet. An individual is not guilty of “possessing” data just because it happens to appear in the temporary internet file or in the “lost files” portion of the hard drive. Since data is saved automatically by the computer, there is no presumption that a given person “possesses” the data – possibly inappropriate images – which are found in the temporary internet files. Similarly, “lost files” cannot be readily accessed by a computer operator without using special software unavailable to most individuals. Since such lost files would not be accessible, the computer operator could not be in “possession” of them.

The Windows operating environment also keeps track of date and time. The date and time of a computer can be changed with a few keystrokes. Therefore, contrary to most assumptions, the time and date stamps on a computer do not necessarily correspond to actual dates and times. Knowledge of this is important in determining whether a given individual can either establish an alibi, or whether the government can disprove the individual’s alibi.

For these, and many other reasons, a person should choose an attorney with sufficient technical knowledge about computing and internet principles to understand the issues associated with the case and, as necessary, to confer with appropriate experts.

Other allegations of sexual misconduct require different types of responses. DNA  would be an area of inquiry where identity or extent of  “activity” are issues. Alibi and consent are other fruitful areas of investigation. Please go to the  “cases” and “articles” portions of this website for more details.