Computer Forensics in Alleged Child Pornography Cases in Virginia

Criminal Cases Alleging Child Pornography in Virginia – Computer Forensics Expert

Criminal cases involving accusations of child pornography present unique challenges, not only for the defense attorneys, but also for the computer forensics expert.

Access to the alleged child porn evidence by the Virginia computer forensics expert: 

As a result of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, computer forensics defense experts in Virginia are banned from possessing any material containing alleged child porn, therefore the investigation and analysis needs to be conducted at a law enforcement facility.  Obviously, the prosecution does not have these limitations meaning that the playing field is not fair to begin with.  As a result, for alleged possession of child pornography cases, a computer forensics expert can only conduct the analysis that can be reasonable conducted onsite, given time limitations.  In general, this may include generating file listings, extracting Internet history, processing email, instant messages and other files that could be extracted on site, manual review of pictures, videos, and the extraction of metadata.

Identification of alleged child pornography by the Virginia computer forensics expert:

Normally, at the start of a prosecution for child pornography in Virginia, the police will seize the subject’s computers.  The contents of the individual’s computer will be examined, both manually and through automated means.  As part of the automatic analysis, suspect files are hashed and the hash value is compared with known illegal child pornography images by the police computer forensics examiner.  Other items will be visually inspected and will likely require expert forensics analysis to determine whether the items are actual contraband and not computer-generated virtual images.

However, in some alleged child pornography cases, the police computer forensics examiner may make judgment calls based on what they, based only on visual inspection, deem to be child pornography.  The owner of the computer will most likely be arrested and charged.  The attorney will be provided with a “computer forensics report” typically consisting on nothing more than a  automated printout from computer forensic software, including the items that they believe are contraband.

In these situations, the defense would be best advised to consult with a Virginia computer forensics expert to discuss items such as: what was the origin of the alleged illegal images or videos?  What were the dates and times the files were created, modified or accessed? Can we identify the user of the computer during the times at issue?  Is the computer clock accurate in the first place so that these comparisons can be made?

As a defense computer forensic expert in Virginia, our task is to review and verify the prosecutions evidence and findings and identify potentially exculpable information or flaws in the prosecution’s interpretation of the evidence.  Contact an AVM Technology Virginia computer forensics expert through our contact page.

Expert computer forensics services throughout Virginia, including: Henrico County VA, Richmond City, Chesterfield County VA, Hanover County VA, Petersburg County VA, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Quantico, Virginia Beach VA, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania VA, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, Louisa, Manassas VA, Woodbridge, Charles City, James City, Gloucester, Tidewater, Portsmouth, Shenandoah, Prince George, Sussex, New Kent, West End of Richmond, Glen Allen, Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, and Newport News Divisions).

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  1. […] Federal side, crimes such as computer fraud, computer trespass, Internet solicitation of minors and possession of child pornography are investigated and prosecuted on a daily basis.  All of these cases necessarily involve the […]