Cybercrime Case Study Paper
The Fourth Amendment can be applied to the Internet, computer, and cybercrimes, but it must be done very carefully. The protections that are granted by the Fourth Amendment should depend on the data. If the data is content, which means any kind of communications such as email, or any remotely stored files on a computer system, then the information is protected by the Fourth Amendment. However, if the data is non-content information, such as IP address and email addresses then those are not guaranteed to be protected by the Fourth Amendment.
In 2012, a federal judge ruled that the computer of an individual is not protected by the rights granted under the Fifth Amendment. Many times cybercriminals will claim that their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were violated when investigators conducted the initial or follow-up investigations. One such situation is the court case United States of America v. Richard D. King, Jr. which was argued in the Third Judicial Circuit in 2009. In this case the defendant argued that his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the investigators served an arrest warrant for an accomplice at his residence.
According to court documents and the case files, “In August 2003, King was using the screen name ‘ayoungbeaverluvr’ when he met Angela Larkin on a website called ‘CherryPoppinDaddys. ‘” The two exchanged emails and chat message in reference to Larkin’s two year old daughter being the subject of child pornography and sexual acts against a child. Larkin sent King nude images of her daughter, whom she called “Peanut”, when she left her husband with her daughter, the only other thing she took with her was her computer.
King offered to have Larkin live with him and when she agreed he drove over 200 miles to pick the two up from their location. When authorities in Texas found images of “Peanut” on the computer system of a suspect in their jurisdiction, they noticed the Pennsylvania location of Peanut’s images, and notified authorities. Pennsylvania authorities conducted their investigation and narrowed down the home where the pictures were taken, when they went there they came in contact with Larkin’s husband who notified authorities that he had not heard from his wife since she left home with their daughter and her computer.
When he was told about the criminal activity conducted with his daughter as a victim he immediately contacted Larkin and gave her most current cell phone number to authorities. Using cell phone tracking technology authorities were able to locate Larkin and get an arrest warrant for her immediate arrest. Larkin was living with her daughter at the King residence. When authorities went to the King residence, Kind opened the door and led authorities to Larkin. Larkin was taken into custody and as per the warrant her computer was also seized.
King led authorities to the room and unplugged the computer to give to authorities, as officers were ready to take the computer, King objected and said that the hard drive inside the computer was his and officers had no right to the hard drive. At the time officers said they had the right to take the computer along with the hard drive and left. The data on the hard drive was incriminating evidence against Larkin and King along with others. Larkin was taken to a correctional facility, King planned to visit her and arranged to meet with FBI agent Kyle in March 2003.
When King met with Agent Kyle he was informed that the interview was voluntary and he was free to leave at any time, in the course of the next several hours, King admitted to several different counts of performing oral sex on Peanut, and engaging in online relationships with young girls and viewing, downloading, and storing several thousand images of child pornography on his computer. Larking was indicted in February 2004, and King was first indicted in April 2004 he immediately surrendered to authorities.
A second indictment was filed against King in April 2005 charging him “for sending and causing the receipt of child pornographic images through interstate commerce and conspiracy to destroy evidence and obstruct an official proceeding. ” (University of Phoenix, 2009). King entered a plea of not guilty and attempted to suppress all evidence that was obtained when Larkin was arrested. King claimed that the manner in which the evidence was gathered was a violation of his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.
King argued that when Larkin was arrested in February 2004, the authorities has served a warrant, however King claimed that this entry into his home and the seizure of Larkin’s computer for evidentiary purposes violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The other thing that King argued was that his Fifth Amendment rights were violated in March 2004 when he spoke to Agent Kyle, King claimed that his rights under Miranda v. Arizona were violated when that interrogation took place. The court’s denied both of King’s motions saying that officers had a warrant and probable cause to believe that Larkin was in the home, therefore King’s Fourth Amendment rights had not been violated. The seizure of the computer and the hard drive was also considered to constitutional on the basis that Larkin had consented to the seizure and King was knowledgeable about the contents of the hard drive when he installed his hard drive on Larkin’s computer. Lastly, the court declared that King’s Fifth Amendment rights were not violated during that interrogation with Agent Kyle since the contact was not custodial.
The ruling in this case can be applied to other cases involving computers or other devices that contain electronic evidence, if the situation is somewhat similar to the situations in the case of United States v. Richard D. King, Jr. If the authorities were to serve a search and/or arrest warrant and collect any evidence related to that case then the manner in which the evidence was collected is not considered to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights on the individual(s) involved.
The same can be said about the rights granted by the Fifth Amendment and Miranda v. Arizona as long as the interrogation process was not custodial and the defendant was aware of that. As long as the defendant was aware that the interview was voluntary and he or she was free to leave at will then the interrogation is not considered to be a violation of the Fifth Amendment.