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Digital forensics: How is it being used?

Digital forensics is becoming more and more popular and useful to law enforcement when it comes to prosecuting sex crimes. What is digital forensics? Digital forensics is an analysis of a computer or electronic device's stored information. Even if information has been deleted by a user, forensics are often able to retrieve it through techniques and applications designed for this purpose. This allows officials in an investigation to figure out how, when and where crimes were committed.

Computers or other electronic devices, such as cellphones or tablets, are often used in sexual crimes. Child pornography is one of the most popular crimes where computers are the convicting factor. However, emails are another convicting source in many sex crime cases. Police are targeting sex offenders by social media such as Facebook, chat rooms and others. In many cases, they are soliciting for sex and setting up a person for criminal intent. Sexting is also illegal, and this is a common crime among teens.

But you should know that digital forensics, which used to be expensive and only done in regional offices across the country, is now being done in most states and is far less expensive. More and more people are going to school for degrees in this field of study. While digital forensic laboratories are popping up around the country, if there is not one in your area, your electronic devices can still be sent off to a Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory to be analyzed.

When a person is arrested on suspicion of a crime, law enforcement may want to search his or her home, devices or belongings. They will probably do it one way or another, but if they do so without a warrant, there is a possibility of having any evidence found being inadmissible in court.

If you are arrested, you should not say anything without speaking with an attorney first. Authorities often make mistakes when they are anxious to find a "smoking gun." Obtaining evidence illegally is a "smoking gun" for your attorney to use in your defense.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Digital Forensics," accessed Oct. 21, 2015

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