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Can Deleted Child Pornography Downloads Be Recovered In A Criminal Case?

When it comes to child pornography, if the federal or state government finds out that somebody is involved and believes they have it on their computer, they will get a search warrant to get into their home to grab all their devices, including their computer iPad and phone. Then they will send those devices to a forensic expert to check them out.

I've had a lot of these cases over the last twenty-five years in handling sex crimes, and most of the time – depending on the circumstances – whoever is evaluating the computer can usually get deleted files.

Use of Forensic Experts

Several programs claim that they will encrypt a file and block anybody from getting it. Still, I've seen the feds and even seen state forensic experts be able to find files and then criminally prosecute the individual who had those files.

The real issue is whether or not people are downloading files. Once somebody downloads a child pornography file related to a sex crime investigation, that person will typically be charged.

The prosecutors and law enforcement know that the common defense in child pornography cases is that some virus accidentally brought it in. So they're looking for people downloading it.

They're looking for people having child pornography right on their computer when they come in to execute the search warrant, and they're looking for people who are downloading child pornography and leaving it on their computer.

Another issue is the amount of child pornography on someone's computer. Suppose someone has a lot of child pornography on their computer, or they've deleted a lot of child pornography. In that case, there's a strong argument that that person is involved with child pornography, and they will file those types of cases either at the federal or state level.

Federal Child Pornography Charges

As far as when they're determining which agency, federal or state, is going to deal with a child pornography case in Los Angeles or any state in the nation, the typical policy of the feds who usually have jurisdiction if they chose to have it is, they're going to look at the number of images and amount of the videos that are involved and the type and nature of the videos, and then they will make their determination as to whether they want to file that case or not.

If they don't file the case, but there is evidence that the person has child pornography, then what ends up happening is the state will take that case and prosecute it but do not underestimate forensic experts when it comes to finding child pornography on computer, tablets or phones.

The only caveat to that is it typically takes a long time to find child pornography. Most of these investigations average at least one year or more, especially when a federal prosecution.

So, you have to expect they're going to take a long time. You don't talk to the feds about that because they're going to try to ask you questions to lock in the fact that it's your computer – that you're the only one that downloaded anything and anything else that they think is relevant to try to convict you of the crime.

You should use your attorney even in the investigative phase to deal with child pornography allegations in Los Angeles or any other county.

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