Atlanta Child Pornography Attorney

Defending Child Pornography Cases

With years of experience defending sex crime cases in Georgia, we are one of the only firms in the state that specialize in the defense of child pornography cases. Over the years, we have obtained an overwhelming number of dismissals and acquittals for clients charged with these offenses.

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Since child pornography cases are primarily based on computer-related evidence, defense attorneys who handle these cases should be well-versed in interpreting computer data and must be able to recognize and obtain the type of data that will prove the client’s innocence. It is vitally important for defense lawyers to know how to use and analyze computer evidence and, more importantly, when to retain a computer forensics expert. We work with the leading investigators and experts in the field and will use whatever resources are necessary to win the case.

Bernard has been recognized in the legal community for his success in defending computer-based offenses. He is frequently called upon to speak at seminars throughout Georgia to teach lawyers how to understand and use computer forensics evidence. At the State Bar’s annual conference, he taught “Computer Forensics for Criminal Defense Lawyers.” and his other presentations have included “What Lawyers Need to Know About Computer Forensics,” “Investigating Computer-Related Evidence,” and “Digital Evidence in Child Molestation and Porn Cases.”

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Understanding Child Pornography Cases in Georgia

In Georgia, child pornography cases are prosecuted under the sexual exploitation of children statute.

The statute provides that it is illegal to knowingly possess or control any material that depicts a minor or any portion of a minor’s body engaged in any sexually explicit conduct. The statute also makes it unlawful to knowingly create, reproduce, publish, promote, sell, distribute, give, exhibit, or possess with intent to sell or distribute any such material.

Under Federal law, prosecutions are based on either the distribution, receipt, or possession of child pornography. The federal statute provides for mandatory minimum prison sentences for distribution and receipt with no mandatory minimum sentence for possession. This distinction has been heavily criticized as it is virtually impossible to possess pornography without having also received it. Thus, the government has been able to arbitrarily decide which individuals will get prosecuted for receipt versus possession.

Child Pornography Arrests & Investigations

Most child pornography arrests originate when an individual’s IP address gets flagged by either law enforcement or an online service such as Google, Yahoo, Dropbox, Tumblr, and a host of others. When an IP address gets flagged, the information typically gets transmitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) who then notify the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the IP address is located.

Many times, by the time local law enforcement acts on this information, it is several months after the IP was originally flagged. The police will often show up at the residence with a search warrant authorizing them to seize all of the computers and electronic devices at the premises.

Child Pornography on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Programs

Many child pornography cases stem from P2P file sharing programs like Ares, BitTorrent, eMule, and Shareaza. These provide access to a vast network of files that are uploaded by individuals and can be seen and downloaded by those in the program.

Many people use these programs to download pornography and the majority of it is legal adult pornography. Occasionally, a person may accidentally download a file containing child pornography but may not realize this until the file is actually viewed. While deleting the file will keep it out of sight to the user, this does not remove it from the hard drive of the computer or device. Thus, a person who has accidentally downloaded child pornography will still remain in possession of the file well after it is deleted.

In order for us to prove that the file was accidentally downloaded, it is critical for us to analyze the file and folder properties on the computer. Many times, we can obtain the search terms used by the client to prove that the download was accidental. Since the police will never be looking for this type of evidence during their investigation, it is imperative for us to search for and obtain this evidence in order to prove our client’s innocence. We will often do so with the assistance of a computer forensics expert.

Highly Recommend Bernard Brody

I was charged with a serious child pornography crime. Bernard was able to use his in-depth experience and skill and knowledge of computer forensics to prove the allegations against me were false.

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Our Results in Child Pornography Cases

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Unknowingly in Possession: Cache and Deleted Files

Anytime a user views a website, all of the pictures and videos on that site are automatically downloaded to cache files or temporary internet files.

These images are downloaded without the user’s knowledge and can remain on the device for a long period of time. These cache files very often will cause individuals to unknowingly be in the possession of child pornography.

Another type of cache file is a thumbs.db file. Thumbs.db files are system cache files created by the operating system. They are associated with actual image files stored somewhere else on the computer. They also are stored without the user’s knowledge and typically hidden from view.

Even if the image file is later deleted, the thumbs.db file may remain stored on the device. The problem is that the thumbs.db file contains the same picture that the image file contained but in a lower resolution. So, if an image of child pornography is deleted from the device, the associated thumbs.db file, containing that very same image, may remain on the hard drive without the user’s knowledge.

In Barton v. State, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that the presence of child pornography saved in a person’s cache files does not, by itself, constitute knowing possession of child pornography. The ruling in Barton also applies to deleted files found in the unallocated space of the computer.

To prove that a person knowingly possessed cache files or deleted files in the unallocated space, the prosecution will have to prove that the person knew these files still existed or actively sought out and stored these files on the computer or device.

Computer Experts in Child Pornography Cases

With the assistance of computer forensics experts, we can usually prove when a user accidentally downloaded or possessed child pornography. Using software such as EnCase or FTK, our experts can retrieve data that enables us to retrace our clients’ steps that led to the unwanted files entering the computer.

For example, an expert can assist in locating search terms used with file sharing programs, internet history data, file properties that can show when files were downloaded or deleted, and extract data that helps create timelines showing the user’s activity at the time of the downloading of the unlawful files.

It must be stressed that very little of this data can be obtained without the use of a computer forensics expert. We are fortunate to be able to work with some of the best experts in the field and with their assistance we have successfully proven the innocence of many people.

For more information, please visit Georga Sex Offense Law and review our posts on What Constitutes Possession of Child Pornography, Part I: Deleted and Cache Files, Part II: Accidentally Downloading or Possessing Image and Video Files, and Part III:Thumbs.db Files.

How Our Defense Firm Has Helped Clients Charged with Child Pornography

We have helped many clients prove their innocence and walk away from wrongful child pornography charges. Here’s an example:

Our client was a respected Cobb County teacher and lacrosse coach. While using Limewire, he accidentally downloaded a video containing child pornography. The individual was subsequently indicted for sexual exploitation of children in Cobb County Superior Court. By working with a computer forensic expert, we were able to provide the actual search terms our client used. We could show that he only opened the file once and then attempted to delete it. Finally, we were able to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the case prior to trial.

Read Our Results page to learn more about how we’ve successfully defended other clients accused of child porn crimes across Georgia.

GeorgiaTrend Legal Elite Super Lawers National Trial Lawyers Top 100 National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys AVVO 10.0 Superb Rating, Criminal Defense AVVO Clients' Choice Award, Criminal Defense - 2015