As little due diligence is done on computer sellers, it’s quite possible the new owner will inherit child pornography.
What happens if you purchase a used computer, connect to the internet, and are somehow arrested for having child porn sites in your browser’s history? We offer this objective advice to those facing unwarranted child pornography charges.
Did you retain your purchase receipt?
A case of mistaken identity could be cleared up by providing investigators with proof of purchase. From there, they’ll talk to the store owner or clerk who took in the computer, which should lead them to someone else.
Failing to produce proof of purchase won’t discount your claim that you’re in possession of someone else’s criminal activity; you’ll just need to prove where you purchased it, and perhaps accompany law enforcement to the store to clear your name.
Show time log of stored cookies
Let’s assume you cannot prove where or when you purchased the used computer. Another way to prove it wasn’t you is to produce records of the cookies stored on your computer. When an individual visits a website, that visit is stored in their cache twice; once in the browser history, and once in the stored cookies. Websites use these cookies to enhance the user’s experience and offer location-specific products or services. Other cookies are there to allow communication between two mediums to commence legally.
Stored cookies are time-stamped. Allow the investigator to peruse your computer (if they’ve not secured a warrant for it already) to put together a timeline. From there, you can prove you didn’t own the computer based off the record of website visits, downloads and stored cookies.
They still don’t believe you? The surefire way to get investigators off your tail is providing IP logs.
IP addresses don’t lie. Produce proof.
When you signed up for internet service in or around White Plains, the service provider gives you a unique identifier called an IP address. Every computer in America has one “leased” to them. It’s essentially what is used in the background to “shake hands” with another website, validate each other, and allow your favorite website to be pulled up.
Once you connect your used computer to the internet, your IP is visible to every site (unless you’re using a VPN). It’s also visible internally. By visiting blogs, sports or news sites, you establish an IP history with your computer; each cookie and browser record will have that IP.
Match the IP address assigned by your internet service provider (ISP) with what the investigators are showing is attached to the child pornography sites, and that should be enough to at least warrant a further look. A few things to note about IP addresses:
- Some ISPs may allow their customers to renew the lease on their IP every thirty (30) days; they should have a record of IP reassignment.
- IPs are dropped and renewed often. Some ISPs may have a dedicated “block” of numbers which could narrow down an investigator’s search.
- If you can produce proof of when you initiated internet service, you can establish how long you’ve had your IP address.
Investigators still under the impression you’re hiding something?
Bring everything to an attorney. Immediately.
Some officers aren’t tech savvy. You can provide all the proof in the world, and they know only two things: a computer has child pornography on its hard drive, and you own that computer. To them, it’s a slam-dunk conviction. But since you’re 100% positive someone framed you without trying to actually frame you, an attorney who specializes in defending child porn charges should be brought into the mix.
Bring every bit of evidence discussed above, provided the computer hasn’t been confiscated yet. Print out your computer’s browsing history, boot logs (which show each restart or cold “turn on”), IP address, internet bills, and the receipt (or business name, at least). Run, don’t walk, to your criminal defense attorney. From there, they should be able to prove beyond doubt you are not the one who downloaded the porn.
Just how serious are child pornography charges in Nevada?
Let’s assume you’re planning to mount your defense pro se. From one of Nevada’s finest county jail cells, you put together facts and are ready to fight to the death. Then, the day comes to present your case to twelve jurors. Unfortunately, the prosecution has provided overwhelming (albeit nonexistent) circumstantial and physical evidence implicating you. You’re found guilty, with sentencing scheduled for several weeks down the road. Here’s what to expect:
- Possessing child pornography in Nevada, according to law, is punishable by imprisonment up to four (4) years, along with up to $5,000 in fines per count. In some cases, one picture may equal one count.
- As mandated by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORA), you will be adjudicated a sex offender, forcing you to register for an extended period of time.
- Potential Federal charges under 18 U.S.C. § 2252 if those images were transmitted across state lines.
One could face significant prison time for something they didn’t do because they failed to retain criminal defense to fight allegations – all over an old computer worth a couple hundred bucks.
Don’t let a used computer ruin your life
This firm neither condones nor objects to what purchases citizens decide to make. Hobbyists, professionals and even budget-strapped students will often buy personal computers from secondhand stores for personal or business use. More often than not, computers taken in by these stores will have data wiped; stores themselves may look through the hard drives prior to making an offer to make sure there’s nothing “dicey” on the hard drives or browser histories.
If you’re facing charges because a computer you purchased has child pornography on it, leave nothing to chance and hire an attorney who understands how to get to the bottom of your charges Between log files, IP history, proof of purchase and your internet service provider, it shouldn’t take an attorney too long to dissuade prosecution from taking your case to trial.