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Computer Forensic Evidence

Not much happens in this technological age without leaving a digital footprint. Computer forensic experts find digital footprints, analyse what they mean and present their findings to the court.

Prosecutors will often use computer forensic evidence in their case against an accused person. However, the value of digital evidence in a defence case cannot be underestimated, whether the offence is one that directly involves technology or not.

Some examples of the use of computer forensic evidence by defence teams are:

Using Computer Forensic Evidence to Challenge Prosecution Digital Evidence

In prosecuting some offences, particularly those which involve the possession of digital images such as child abuse material, the prosecution’s primary evidence may be that images were found on a computer belonging to an accused person.

A computer forensic expert could look at the data within the computer to determine details behind the images themselves, such as when the images were downloaded to the computer, if they were viewed and when, as well as who was accessing the computer at the relevant times. This evidence could be critical to the defence, because it could establish that the accused person did not know that the material was on the computer, or that someone else had put it there.

Using Computer Forensic Evidence to Establish Someone’s Location

Even if the offence doesn’t involve technology at all, there could still be valuable defence evidence to be gained from computers.

For example, the prosecution’s evidence against an accused person could turn on them being in a certain place at a certain time. In that case, defence computer forensic evidence from the accused person’s mobile phone could be used establish that they were not present at the time of the offence.

Computer forensic experts can examine a phone to determine which transmission tower it was using at any one time. Because mobile phones use the nearest towers, this information can establish a location of the phone at any one time. If the tower location is reasonably far away from the crime scene, and if the accused person always has their phone on them, then this can provide evidence that they were not at the scene of the crime when it was committed.

Recovering Deleted or Lost Digital Files

We are often reminded that although we might delete files from our devices they can always be recovered. This can be particularly helpful, because deleted files which are recovered by computer forensic experts can provide vital evidence for a defence.

For example, there have been situations where consent in sexual assault matters has been in issue. Computer forensic experts have been able to recover deleted SMS messages between the accused person and the complainant which demonstrate a willingness to engage in sexual intercourse, providing the accused person with a defence.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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