The Role of Digital Forensics in Child Pornography Cases

Child pornography, also referred to as child sexual abuse material (CSAM), has exploded with the advent of the digital age. From using the dark web to access photos, videos, and other media to distributing images online, it’s easier than ever for someone to end up with media that could be considered child pornography.

If charged with distribution or possession, the role of your criminal defense lawyer is to build a defense that counters evidence that federal or state authorities claim they have against you, which is often collected through digital forensics.

The Importance of Digital Evidence

Digital evidence in a child pornography case is one of the primary ways that authorities build a case against those charged with possession, creation, or distribution of CSAM. It usually starts with a deep inspection of any electronic devices the accused owns or has access to, like computers, smartphones, tablets, cameras, video recorders, or even gaming systems.

The digital evidence from devices you had access to is how authorities may allege that you were the one creating, distributing, or viewing any child pornography media found on the devices.

Crafting Your Defense

Authorities finding CSAM on one or more of your devices or linked to any of your online accounts, like an email or social media account, can be a big hurdle for your criminal defense lawyer. Crafting a defense to these criminal charges often includes proving that you were not the sole owner or the only person with access to the device.

Another defense is challenging that you even saw the images to begin with. A common form of child pornography distribution is to encode images in other locations, documents, or even within other photos. Sometimes, a computer virus may infect your device, planting the materials. Other times, someone with nefarious intentions toward you may deliberately send you files with hidden child pornography in hopes that you’d open them and get into legal trouble.

The Role of Expert Witnesses in the Criminal Justice System

Both the defense and prosecution may call upon the services of an expert witness to explain the presence of child pornography evidence. Expert witnesses in these cases are people who may be forensic digital analysts. They can explain how certain files end up on your devices, possibly where they came from and how they were created, or use the metadata from photos or videos to determine their provenance. 

Case Studies and Precedents

The rapidly changing ways in which information is distributed online, including the presence of cloud storage, makes it hard for the law to keep up, and it’s often up to the courts to interpret laws on the books and apply them to situations that lawmakers may not have envisioned. This case study highlights some of the problems courts have when applying laws from the 1990s to current technology.

Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney for Help

Being charged with any crime related to child sex abuse material or child pornography is serious, with repercussions that can affect the rest of your life if they result in a criminal conviction. You have the right to a criminal defense lawyer, and we can help. Contact Keith Oliver Criminal Law today for a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Author: Keith G. Oliver

Founding partner Keith G. Oliver has a passion for helping people who are caught up in the criminal justice system. He believes that everyone has a right to be presumed innocent, and that one mistake shouldn’t define a person forever. This passion drives Mr. Oliver to tirelessly fight for his clients and pursue the best possible outcome in every case.