What Lies Within: Child Pornography and Used Computers
The technology industry thrives on “planned obsolescence,” which is a concept where the products they create rapidly become obsolete as they release newer, sleeker products. Nowhere is that concept more apparent than in the market for home computers, where a computer you buy today could be outdated within six months.
This causes many people to seek out used computers. “As long as it works,” you tell yourself, “there’s nothing to worry about.” Sadly, that is not always true. Buying a used computer could pose a hidden danger that could end up with you behind bars.
A used computer could have files or a history of child pornography. If this happens, you could potentially be charged with a crime that carries a sentence of up to eight years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.1 So what can you do if you bought a used computer that was used to distribute or obtain child pornography?
3 Ways to Protect Yourself from Child Porn Charges After Buying a Computer
Any time you buy a used computer or any device that can be used to search the internet (such as a tablet, smartphone, or video game console), there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from facing child pornography charges.
Keep the receipt
When purchasing the computer, you should ask for a receipt that includes as much of the seller’s information as possible, including name, address, phone number and email address. Not only could this protect you if the computer does not work, it could also be used to show that your computer had a previous owner if you are accused of a child pornography crime.
If the seller is unwilling to give you a receipt, you may want to think twice about purchasing that computer.
Wipe out the data
You should either ask the previous owner to erase the hard drive or do it yourself immediately upon taking possession of the device. In fact, most devices have a quick and easy restore function that will reset the device to its factory settings.
If you do not take that step and later discover that your computer’s browser history shows searches for child pornography, you must be aware that simply deleting the history will not rid your computer of the incriminating files. California prosecutors have been successful in convicting defendants for possession of child pornography based on the temporary storage of these files in their browser’s cache.2
Contact authorities immediately if you discover evidence of child pornography
If you did not take the first two steps and you later discover evidence of child pornography on your used computer, you should report it to authorities right away. Erasing the files or browser history upon discovering them could hurt your case if you are accused of a child pornography crime.
It is best to speak to an experienced child pornography defense attorney before speaking to authorities. Your attorney can help make sure you do not incriminate yourself when you turn over the evidence to law enforcement.
Contact the Child Pornography Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Our legal system is not perfect, and innocent people are occasionally charged with crimes they did not commit. If you or a loved one is facing state or federal criminal charges related to child pornography, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending people accused of child pornography crimes. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. Cal. Penal Code §§311–312.7; 290 href=”#ref1″>↩
1. See, e.g., People v. Mahoney, E055162 (Court of Appeal, October 17, 2013) href=”#ref1″>↩