Electronic Evidence in Criminal Defense

As crime goes high-tech, the criminal justice system must follow. In this presentation, Matt Curtin discusses his work as a forensic computer scientist hired in the defense of a young man charged with several serious crimes because of what police found on his computer.

C Matthew Curtin
Interhack Corporation

As crime goes high-tech, criminal investigation, prosecution, and defense must follow. In 2005, a high school senior was charged with a variety of crimes ranging from a second-degree felony to a first-degree misdemeanor; conviction could have radically changed the honor student's life, sending him to prison instead of the university. Fundamental to the case was what was on his computer and how it got there.

PDF Electronic Evidence in Criminal Defense (slides)
PDF Electronic Evidence in Criminal Defense (case study)

Matt Curtin served as a forensic computer scientist for the defense, making a critical examination of the data in question and of the investigator's analysis and conclusions. As the case was handled as a juvenile proceeding, identifying details have been withheld but all other details are quite real.

After Curtin's analysis, a deal was reached with prosecutors that resulted in all charges being dropped, allowing the young man to proceed with his education.

Important lessons can be drawn from this case for anyone working with electronic evidence in the criminal justice system or civil litigation. Computer users and parents can also learn some extremely important lessons about the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.