Prosecuting Child Exploitation Cases With Digital Forensics

When a child is exploited in some way, it's destructive and tragic and can have a life long impact upon innocent victims. It's devastating for families and many don't even know its occurring.

Child exploitation can be challenging to detect and extremely frustrating to find the perpetrator and prosecute him or her to the fullest extent of the law. In the past, it was a lot harder for detectives to achieve this quickly and efficiently. Today, digital forensics is being used to more readily investigate and prosecute child exploitation crimes.

A Powerful Tool For Law Enforcement

First off, what is digital forensics? You've no doubt heard of scientific forensics, where DNA and fingerprints are used to determine without a shadow of a doubt who the perpetrator is. Digital forensics is a branch of this science that deals with the recovery, investigation and analysis of digital devices, from computer hard drives and cell phones to digital camera flash cards.

Much like a human being, computers contain information in binary form that's unique to that device, able to store untold amounts of information that can be traced back to certain time periods or involving certain subject matter. Also called e-crime, this brand of forensics is typically used in cases of child exploitation such as pornography, murder and molestation.

police forensic car

You may think what you look up on your computer disappears after you hit delete, but it's never really gone. That's what investigators bank on when they apply digital forensics to uncover crimes against people, but children in particular. This practice has grown so much over the last decade that regional police departments are pairing up with federal law enforcement agencies to pack a one-two punch.

Because criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated electronics methods to commit illegal acts, says the National Institute of Justice, digital forensics is a powerful too for law enforcement.

Protecting Children

Children are our most valuable -- and most vulnerable -- assets and must be protected from predators like child molesters at all costs. The advancement of digital forensics techniques has allowed law enforcement personnel to more easily and more conclusively solve child abuse and sex offender cases.

Many years ago, when this technology wasn't available, it was very difficult to prove any kind of child exploitation case because the evidence couldn't be retrieved, nor was there any method to retrieve it.

Today, software, technology and good old fashioned detective work can lead to solved crimes because of access to suspects' computers, hard drives and memory cards to obtain damning images, websites and email trails. This information is all admissible in court and can be used to conclusively point to a perpetrator of child abuse, murder or molestation.