Child pornography must be eradicated by finding its creators, stopping all abusive activities, and subjecting the producers to the fullest weight of the criminal law. In Louisiana and elsewhere, however, for those accused of viewing and trading illicit images on the Internet, basic civil liberties guaranteed by our state and federal constitutions must be provided. These issues are increasing with respect to alleged Internet crimes due to the amazingly broad scope of digital search capabilities now being used by authorities.
Louisiana State Police arrested a 32-year-old Lake Charles man on alleged internet crimes charges relating to downloading and trading child pornography over the Internet. They joined with United States Homeland Security investigators to execute a search warrant at the man’s residence. They say that they seized computers and other devices believed to have been used to download and distribute child pornography over the Internet.
Authorities said the arrest was the result of ‘ongoing’ investigations and was a part of the project known as Operation Child Watch. They say that the man admitted to investigators that he downloaded illegal images and would trade them other unknown individuals. He was booked and is being held at the Calcasieu Parish Correctional Center on $500,000 bond.
He faces from five to 20 years in prison without benefit of parole. However, a few questions remain regarding how the authorities got probable cause for a warrant. The procedure here may be an example of the intrusive method of invading the private hard drives in people’s home computers from outside locations without first having a warrant to do so. The more traditional and appropriate procedure involves having independent information, such as a witness in the home or from a co-conspirator, that establishes probable cause to get a warrant, and then to go forward with a search.
In Louisiana and elsewhere, a procedure that gathers probable cause on Internet crimes by intruding into a person’s home computer from an outside location without a warrant may be subject to challenge. It may be authorized for homeland security investigations regarding violent international groups, but it is arguably unconstitutional in all other instances. If a person faces such charges the best action is to consult with defense counsel to discuss and review all of the facts and determine an appropriate strategy.
Source: kplctv.com, “Lake Charles man arrested for distribution of child pornography,” Lee Peck, June 10, 2013