Many child pornography cases begin when someone with access to the defendant’s computer looks through it, finds child pornography, and contacts law enforcement. For example, the recent Raleigh case in which a “Santa for hire” was charged with possessing child pornography began when a computer repair technician contacted police. In this type of case, does the private party’s search of the defendant’s computer destroy the defendant’s privacy interest such that an officer may then search the computer without a search warrant? A recent federal case explores the issue.
Whether the plain view doctrine makes sense in the context of computer searches, and if it doesn’t, what courts should do about it, are controversial issues. We don’t have any North Carolina case law on point but decisions are piling up around the country. This post summarizes the controversy. Computer searches may be very thorough. … Read more