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What should I do if the authorities want access to my computer?

If you ever face criminal charges, you will have to deal with a variety of complications. Depending on the severity of the crime, you could be facing imprisonment or other serious forms of punishment. And one criminal charge that holds the potential of hefty prison time as well as other long-term penalties is possession of child pornography.

Often, child pornography is stored in digital form on computer hard drives and servers. As such, these are locations that the authorities will want to access when searching for incriminating materials. And if the police should ever want to search your computer equipment, remember that you have rights.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation makes the following recommendations for when the authorities express interest in examining the contents of your computer:

  • Do not allow the police to conduct any searches without a warrant allowing them to do so. If they claim to have a warrant, make them show it to you before granting them entrance to the premises.
  • If the police have a warrant, read it very carefully. The police can only look in areas cited in the warrant, so make sure they limit their search accordingly.
  • You do not have to provide the police with passwords or encryption keys.
  • As the police conduct their search, you do not have to answer their questions. But once they begin, let them conduct their business without interference.

The EFF also advises that in the event of a search, you should contact an attorney. If the police should fail to follow proper search and seizure procedures, it is possible the charges could be dismissed. Child pornography charges could seriously alter the course of your life. If you should ever be the subject of a state or federal investigation, a Louisiana Internet crimes attorney could help you build a strong defense to help protect your long-term interests.

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