Answer: Because of the increasing use of computers and mobile technology by everyone across the board, that does play into both the committing of sex crimes, the prosecuting of sex crimes and also the defending of sex crimes. There’s a lot of issues that arise about computers and mobile technology.
Obviously the first thing people think of is in the child pornography, the use of a computer to facilitate a sex crime, those kinds of things where someone is sending either actual child pornography or other inappropriate sexual material over, via email, by text message, by messenger. All of those things are possible and those can all be charged as various sex crimes, depending on the age of the people involved and the images involved, the statements involved.
Solicitation can happen via email or Internet, even people talk about Craigslist, things like that. So those are all places where sex crimes can be happening and where prosecutors and investigators are looking to charge people.
On the other hand, there’s often a lot that we can do as defense attorneys using technology: whether it’s establishing an alibi; refuting a motive or information—that often happens if you look at people’s Facebook or Twitter or text messages that occur after there’s been an incident. Sometimes that will actually refute the victim’s statement if they have initially said that they consented but then later on say that they didn’t. So those are areas that we can pull information from phone companies, from Facebook, from Twitter, that can help our clients establish what they’re saying actually happened, versus what the victim is now alleging.
There’s also defense experts that we can get into somebody’s computer and see whether they were searching for child pornography or whether that was accidental; whether it was ever viewed or not ever viewed. Those are issues that do come up in sex crime cases, whether an image was actually opened on a computer or whether it’s just kind of hanging out on the hard drive there. And those are issues that computers can help us with, as well as hurt us with.