There is a section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office that handles these sex crime cases exclusively. All their energy and focus is directed at prosecuting these types of cases. In the District of Columbia, a small group of prosecutors handle these cases. When looking for a lawyer to defend you in such a case, it is valuable to find an experienced DC federal sex crimes attorney who knows the prosecutors. Having someone who has experience dealing with DC prosecutors means that your attorney will know what defenses are more efficient and effective with which prosecutors. As a result, a client will likely see more positive outcomes in their case than if they were to hire a defense lawyer who has little to no prior experience.
There are a fair number of task forces that combine state and federal law enforcement to investigate sex crimes cases. Sometimes, there are specific task forces in Virginia and Washington D.C. that handle these investigations. If a government agency is involved because child pornography was discovered on a government computer, then there may be elements of an Inspector General’s Office, Department of Homeland Security, or Customs and Border Patrol. The TSA can get involved if the computer is seized at an airport. Of course the FBI can become involved depending on the specifics of the investigation.
DNA evidence is not usually presented in these types of trials because most of the time there is not an actual child involved. Sex crimes that are prosecuted at the federal level usually involve online communications. If someone is trying to prove who had access to a computer, they are most likely not using DNA.
The type of evidence involved is computer forensics, the computer, and online communications such as chat. It’s not a complex prosecution case because the government introduces the online communications, and someone explains where they originated. The complicated side is when the attorney builds the defense for the case. This where it gets more complicated and more interesting, which is why it will be important to have a DC federal sex crimes lawyer by your side providing you guidance through the process.
A federal investigation can take several forms. There is not actually a pre-arrest or a post-arrest differentiation. There could be an undercover investigation where Federal agents are tasked with monitoring chat rooms and potentially interacting with people who are suspected of engaging in online child enticement. Sometimes a sting operation is initiated with an undercover officer.
There are also federal agents and federal agencies monitoring the internet looking for the transmission of digital images that have certain metadata or identifying information attached to them which would indicate they contain images of child pornography. The evidence would be used in an attempt to track those digital images to an IP address. Then there is an attempt to get a search warrant to search the computer associated with that IP address. It is important to retain a federal sex crimes lawyer in DC even during a pre-arrest investigation when someone suspects they may be under investigation.
The numbers of investigations and prosecutions have skyrocketed in the past four to five years. There are many more resources being assigned to these types of prosecutions. A lot of manpower and money is allocated to prosecuting these cases, particularly in federal court. They are prosecuted extremely, extremely aggressively in just about every jurisdiction. Prosecutors all over the nation take these types of cases very seriously and will work hard to earn convictions.
There are Fourth Amendment issues that arise with respect to the expectation of privacy a person has, for example, with their smartphone. Issues such as whether that smart phone can be searched and what portion of it can be searched, surveillance issues, searches of computers, and the execution of search warrants. Fifth Amendment issues arise with respect to attempted interviews of people suspected of engaging in this type of activity.