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Is There Child Porn on Your Computer? Do You Know What You Are Downloading?

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"Mike" came to our offices after learning he was being investigated for possession of child pornography. Under Ohio law, this crime is called Pandering Obscenity Involving a Minor, a fourth degree felony in Ohio. If convicted, Mike faces 6-18 months in prison on each count plus registering as a sex offender. If his case is charged federally, he is looking at a mandatory minimum 5 year prison term. Unfortunately for Mike, he is in law enforcement and has been suspended by his department. His story is a warning to all of us who routinely download software, updates, movies, and apps.

Ohio law does not expressly prohibit possession of child pornography. What it prohibits is a person's knowledge of this material on their computer, drives, or other electronic media. Ohio Revised Code 2907.321 states, (A) No person, with knowledge of the character of the material or performance involved…shall possess. . . .[child pornography].

Mike adamantly and passionately denies any knowledge of these files being on his computer. However, at the same time, he admits, "who is going to believe me? It's my computer. I'm finished!. How do I prove I had nothing to do with this stuff getting on there? Can we prove it?"

Are you 100% certain as to what is exactly on your computer? Is it possible these types of files could be found on your computers or smart phones?

In today's society we have an app for everything. We are a downloading society. We download without giving much thought as to the source of the files, who has access to these files, and what can be jammed into these files that could get me in trouble.

We believe sinister apps would not be available from our cell phone service providers, but the providers do not have license over the apps, only the phone user. App writers have the ability to attach little "add-ons" that "hatch" when their programs are downloaded and installed onto computer hardware. These add-ons could be innocuous pop-up ads or they can be something a bit more evil. It is possible to imbed child pornography within the program's lines and have that pornography installed onto your devices, as well?

Mike claims he has never seen the images and videos found on these CD's. He admitted to downloading Hollywood movies from a peer-to-peer file-sharing forum, but vehemently denies knowledge of the child pornography.

Forensic computer techs will be brought into the case. They will scan the hard drive, notating every logon date and time, every download, every file received. They will ascertain when and where this child pornography came from and how the files came to be part of a system back up that took seven CD's to complete.

Time will tell which side has the better accounting of the facts. In the meantime, be very careful what you download to your computers and smart phones. You could be one download away from the inside of a courtroom.