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 Georgia sex crime 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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.