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Articles Posted in Internet Crimes

The police have asked me to turn over my cellphone and laptop so that they can search it for illegal material and child pornography. I don’t have anything to hide, but I don’t want to turn anything over unless I really need to. What do the police need to get a search warrant for my electronics?

Under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as under the Florida Constitution, the police cannot search through information on your computer, laptop, cellphone, tablet, or other electronic device without either your consent or a search warrant. If you refuse to give consent, then a police officer or other law enforcement agent would need to provide a sworn affidavit to a magistrate or judge stating the grounds for probable cause. The affidavit would need to provide specific information showing that there is a high probability that law enforcement will find illegal material on your devices if they were allowed to search them.

Many people wonder how law enforcement could possibly know whether their devices contain illegal material such as child pornography. Most tips that law enforcement receives regarding child pornography comes from internet services providers, such as Google or Safari. Internet service providers are private companies. Given that 4th amendment protections only apply to invasions of privacy committed by government actors and not private individuals or companies, the 4th amendment does not protect you from private companies turning over information they have to law enforcement. For example, if an internet service provider becomes aware of an image of child pornography, it can report that image, including providing the web server and address, to law enforcement. Law enforcement can then use this information to establish the probable cause they need to get a warrant for uploads or downloads of this illegal material.

No! No! No! The police may say to you if you let us just look atyour phone and download some information we will let you go. This is a lie – they want to gather evidence against you to arrest you. The police can lie to you to get evidence, or in this case, your cell phone data.  Don’t be fooled into thinking if I just give them my phone all will be okay.

Remember! If the police already had enough evidence against you to rise to the level of probable cause they would not need the data from your phone to help convict you.

So, what is Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is a serious criminal offense. Under Florida Law, cyberstalking occur via communications over the internet, cyberspace, and through text messages. Cyberbullying, masquerading as the victim on-line, anonymously posting private information about another person, texting sexually provocative information or pictures (sexting), and on-line sexual harassment are acts associated with cyberbullying. Continue reading

Recently named as one of the top ten emerging legal issues in February, 2016, Internet crimes and the affirmative defense of entrapment, has become one of the most hotly contested legal contests in the 21st century.  As violent crime and crimes against persons and property are dropping all over the Nation, internet crimes have seen a dramatic spike in both arrests and convictions in almost every State and Federal Court system. The most common of these internet crimes involve adults being caught in police “sting” operations, where undercover police officers pretend to be someone they are not, usually an underage boy or girl, to engage in sexual conversation or the exchange or proposed exchange of sexually explicit photographs of children under the age of eighteen. These crimes are very serious in nature, and in the event of conviction, may label an individual a sexual offender or sexual predator for the rest of their lives.

Police Troll Chat Rooms

The police will troll chat rooms and other public or semi-public forums looking for individuals seeking to meet or talk with others of similar interests. Sometimes those individuals are looking for illegal materials or to engage in sexually explicit discussions with minors, or those pretending to me minors. Other times, these conversations lead to a person traveling some distance to meet an alleged minor at a “trap” house, which then results in their arrest for felony charges.

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