Articles Posted in Internet Crimes

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jail.jpgNorman Miller of the MertroWest Daily News reports the story of an Ashland man. According to the article members of the Massachusetts Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (which usually consists of the State Police working in conjunction with local law enforcement and the Attorney General’s Office) were able to identify child pornography that was being traded on a file sharing network.

The article doesn’t say how the police were able to track down the man, but in the majority of these cases the police are able to obtain the IP address of the person using the file sharing network. Once police have the IP address they either get a search warrant or subpoena for the records of internet service provider associated with the IP address. From the internet service provider they get the subscriber name and address that was using that particular IP address at the time it was observed to be downloading child pornography. From there, all police need to do is get a search warrant for that address and go knock on the door. (as an aside, just a tip to regular readers, make sure to always password protect your wireless router otherwise someone can pirate your wireless signal, if someone does and downloads child pornography you can get an unpleasant knock on your door)

According to the article the police found over 3,000 images and videos of child pornography in the home. Police also indicated they seized 15 different electronic devices, and have not finished searching those items.

As of now, the man is charged with possession of child pornography. Possession of child pornography is certainly a serious charge in and of itself. The maximum penalty for possession of child pornography in Massachusetts is 5 years in state prison. Any conviction for possession of child pornography requires the defendant to register as a sex offender, regardless of whether or not he or she is sentenced to jail time.

As serious as the man’s case is already, he will face significantly increased penalties if prosecutors bring new charges of dissemination of child pornography. The article state prosecutors may pursue the dissemination charge because the man admitted that others had downloaded some of the images remotely from his computer. Any defendant convicted of dissemination of child pornography faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in state prison and can be sentenced to as many as 20 years in state prison. In addition there is also a requirement that the defendant register as a sex offender.

In cases like these often times the most important question in the case relates to the police procedure used in the investigation. Prosecutors must show a court that the police followed proper procedures in obtaining information and searching the man’s home. If the man’s constitutional rights were violated in the search of his home there is potential the evidence against him could be suppressed.

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car peeling out.jpgRecently the Springfield Republican ran an article about the arrest of a woman for her alleged role in a theft of a car that occurred over craigslist. The article tells the story of a Springfield man who attempted to sell his Nissan Maxima on criagslist.org. The seller went to meet a potential buyer in the parking lost of the basketball hall of fame. While showing the car to the potential buyer, the seller got down on his hands and knees to look at the under carriage of the car. Once he did this the potential buyer drove the car off and did not return.

The seller reported the car stolen, and was surprised a few days later when he received a phone call from a person offering to sell his own car back to him for $500 dollars. When the seller arranged to meet someone to get the vehicle back he was allegedly approached by the defendant and she tried to resell him his own title. At that point she was arrested by the police.

Larceny of a motor vehicle is a very serious crime in Massachusetts. It is a felony and punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. In addition to the potential lengthy prison sentence any conviction on this offense must be reported to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. The RMV is required to suspend the license of anyone convicted for 1 year the first time they are convicted, and for 5 years on any subsequent offense.

The defendant finds herself in a difficult position now. She has exposed herself to a larceny charge, and although prosecutors have only charged larceny over $250 to this point they could very well add the additional larceny of a motor vehicle charge at a later date, or in a grand jury presentation if they choose to indict her.

Of course at this point the case against the defendant only consists of allegations. The report from The Republican leaves a lot of information unknown to the reader. It is entirely possible the defendant was a fall guy, and thought that she was engaging in an entirely legal actions when she approached the owner the day she was arrested.

Whatever the case is, the defendant will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help her fight these allegations and make sure that her rights and record are protected for the future.

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By way of the Springfield Republican I recently came across the cautionary tale of a man who recently posted some items for sale on craigslist.  After some communication over the internet, the man went to meet the person he believed would purchase these items at a local Starbucks.

Unbeknownst to the man, the interested buyer was not a potential customer at all, but rather the original owner of the equipment who had recognized his stolen goods when he saw them posted. That original owner called the police and with their help organized the sting that lead to the man’s arrest in the Starbucks. The man has been charged with receiving stolen property and it is likely a felony because the value of the property involved is greater than $250
Cases like this are becoming more and more common. Although the average receiving stolen property case never receives any media attention this one likely got coverage because of the excitement involved with a police sting spurred by a citizen pursuing his stolen property over craigslist.

An initial reading of the article might leave one with the impression that the man’s case is a hopeless one, that he was “caught red handed” and couldn’t have any possible defense. However receiving stolen property cases are not always as clear cut as they might seem at first blush.

In order to prove someone guilty of receiving stolen property it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the person accused not only had possession of stolen property, but that the person in possession of the stolen property knew or believed it was stolen. (for a deeper discussion of exactly what that means read Commonwealth v. Sandler )

In this man’s case it’s not apparent at all that he knew the items he brought with him to the Starbuck’s were stolen property. There is no indication that he admitted to being the one who even posted the ad on craigslist. It is entirely possible that the man was the unknowing fall guy for the real guilty party, and was just used as a pawn to complete the transaction. Its also possible that the man bought these items from a source he thought was legitimate, and saw an opportunity to resell them for a profit.

Whether the man is guilty or not, he certainly finds himself in a difficult situation now. Being charged with a felony for receiving stolen property could have a major negative impact on his life. According to Massachusetts General Laws the maximum penalty for receiving stolen property over $250 is 5 years in state prison. On top of potential jail time if he is convicted the man will have the conviction on his criminal record, and may find it to be a significant bar to any attempt to gain employment over the next 10 years.

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