Computer forensics play an important part in the investigation of cases involving criminal accusation in Virginia. During a criminal investigation for cases involving computers or digital evidence, a judge may issue a warrant and digital devices may be seized. Some of the seized devices may include computer hard drives, computer laptops, tablet computers, Ipad, Iphone, Android phones, Blackberry, other smart phones, flash memory cards, portable hard drives, memory sticks, etc. We frequently assist attorneys representing clients accused of computer crimes. Although a large number of our clients retain our services, we also assist court-appointed counsel.
Once these digital devices are seized as part of a criminal case in Virginia,law enforcement will typically have its own Virginia computer forensics expert examine the evidence. If the case is prosecuted, the defense (or defense attorney) may be provided with the opportunity to examine this digital evidence. It is critical to have this evidence examined by a competent Virginia computer forensics examiner. For example, in computer trespass, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and Stored Communications Act cases, the prosecution may only provide a redacted “computer forensics report” to the defense. In essence, this document will describe “what was found on the defendant’s computer” to the defense attorney. There may even be a plea offer given that this evidence will “easily prove guild beyond a reasonable doubt” according to the prosecution. However, the simplified IP addresses provided, list of files recovered, and other “incriminating evidence” are usually not as black and white as a motivated prosecutor may think. Most defense attorneys are not computer experts, therefore the best practice is to enlist an expert to assist.
Similarly, Virginia prosecutors are aggressively prosecuting cases involving possession and distribution of child pornography and solicitation of a minor via Internet chat room. These cases are easy to prosecute, they involve offenses that society finds unacceptable and there is no need to bring a victim to testify (note that most of these cases involve sting operations where a police officer utilizes file sharing software or poses as a minor).
Although a case may seem clear cut from an untrained perspective, a computer forensics expert will probably be able to look at the case from a different angle. For these criminal cases, a computer forensics expert will examine what can be found as well as what is hidden. A computer forensics expert will not only see an incriminating photo, but will also trace it to its source. Similarly, a computer forensics expert will not just see a chat room transcript, but will trace it, explore it, dissect it, and find out the entire story. Often, this results in exculpatory evidence ter forensics expert will examine what can be found as well as evidence that would not have been found otherwise.
A Virginia computer forensics expert may assist an attorney as an expert in defending clients accused of computer crimes, including but not limited to:
Computer fraud under Va. Code Sec. 18.2-152.3. – Using a computer network without authorization and to commit certain acts enumerated under the statute.
Computer trespass under Va. Code Sec. 18.2-152.4 or violations of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 USC 1030. These accusations are also known as computer “hacking” or unauthorized access. These cases also include credit card or access device fraud federal charges.
18.2-374.3 Use of communications devices to facilitate offenses involving minors – These charges generally involve police officers use chat rooms (generally the Yahoo adult rooms) to pose as an underage girl.
Possession, distribution of child pornography under Va. Code Sec. 18.2-374.1.1 – As described above, these cases usually involve analysis of evidence and are not as black and white as some may think. The assistance of a Virginia computer forensics expert is critical.
Internet identity theft and aggravated identity theft or violation of the Virginia Computer crime statutes, Unauthorized transmission of bulk or unsolicited email (SPAM) under the Virginia Computer Crimes Act – Cyber stalking, computer harassment.
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).