Electronically stored data (ESI) are sometime necessary to solve cases presented in court. The electronically stored data may occur as information on a computer hard-drive, a cellular phone, a removable drive, websites, e-mails, or even social media content. Increasingly, criminal investigators need to be aware of the proper protocol to for the (1) search; (2) seizure; and (3) presentation as evidence. Criminal Justice specialist should also be cognizant that the search, seizure and presentation must be done legally.
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Therefore, the search and seizure of electronically store date must not violate the law. This module will present the basic rules criminal investigator to perform digital forensics. Cybersecurity specialists have standardized the steps for digital forensics which would be especially useful for criminal justice practitioners.
Digital forensics is the collection, analysis and reporting of electronic data to investigate an incident, including a crime. (See the glossary for a more formal definition.)
Imaging over 100 Hard Drives for a Multi-National Corporation (Collecting & Preserving Vital Data for a Federal Case), source: http://uscellphonedetective.com/computer-forensics/
“The broad range of storage devices that may contain digital evidence requires law enforcement to carefully search any suspect and crime scene to identify all potential pieces of technology that may implicate an individual in an offense. There are major variations in the ways that different devices work, and how they may connect to the Internet. This directly impacts the way that an officer must handle the device to ensure that it is properly maintained and will not be rendered inadmissible later during any court proceedings. Not all officers are aware of the differences in the processes and storage capacities between devices—even those made by the same company. In fact, the constantly evolving nature of technology makes digital evidence handling one of the most complex issues that law enforcement may face in the field”
Examples of Occurrence
United States v. Jones (2012) limits on attaching GPS device to a vehicle.
Riley v. California (2014) – no warrantless search of cell phones.
Example 2: Bind, Torture, Kill
The case of Dennis Rader, better known as the BTK killer, is a great example of the critical role digital forensics can play in a criminal investigation …