Using Digital Forensics for Felony Defense in Washington State

In today’s online world, digital evidence (electronic evidence) is becoming more prevalent in criminal cases. Most people do not realize how much of a digital footprint they leave and what little electronic data can provide law enforcement with everything they need to charge you with a felony crime.

Prosecutors can use digital evidence to build a case against the defendant. However, when the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer understands the nuances and limitations of digital forensics and knows how to use electronic evidence against the State- they can unmask how flawed the criminal charge truly is. If you are facing a felony charge in the Camas or Vancouver area, it’s essential to enlist the guidance of a highly qualified and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who will fight hard to maintain your rights.

What is Digital Forensics?

Digital forensics is one form of forensic science that is an integral part of criminal investigations. Law enforcement enforcement officers and investigators can obtain electronic evidence from smartphones, personal computers, and other digital devices. This can include extracting videos, pictures, text messages, recordings, social media posts, emails, data, deleted files, etc., to use as evidence against the accused. However, law enforcement must collect digital evidence appropriately so that they do not violate the accused person’s Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure. Unless the accused provides consent for the search or another witness involved provides the evidence, a typical scenario for extraction is law enforcement obtaining a search warrant for the device, and the device goes into the State’s custody. Law enforcement can pick and choose what evidence they extract- to frame their support for the charge- for example- they will extract part of, not all of, a text conversation.

Digital Forensics and Investigations in Washington State

Felony cases involving cell phone data, electronic communications, or other forms of digital evidence often involve digital forensic investigators. Law enforcement agencies in Washington state have their own digital forensic investigator to extract digital evidence, and this investigator is readily accessible to the prosecution as another officer of the State. These investigators may be tasked with conducting seizures and examinations of electronic devices, assisting officers with obtaining search warrants and subpoenas, collecting and storing digital evidence for upcoming criminal proceedings, and submitting reports on findings from digital forensic investigations. Once a cell phone or laptop is seized by law enforcement, for the investigator to extract digital evidence, it takes a skilled defense attorney with adequate cause to get the device back. Typically, the device is kept until a full adjudication is made.

Using Digital Forensics in Your Legal Defense Strategy

If you are facing felony charges in Clark County and there is even a chance of an incriminating text message or video coming out, it is natural to feel like you’ve already lost your criminal case. Remember: the State’s digital evidence is not foolproof.

Your seasoned Camas criminal defense attorney can highlight the strengths and weaknesses of forensic science to counteract the validity and reliability of the digital evidence the prosecutor seeks to use against you. Vern McCray’s stringent practice is to conduct our own investigations to prepare a winning defense. Our firm has a successful record of using digital evidence such as photos, GPS, videos, surveillance footage, social media posts, voicemails, and texts to both prevent charges from ever being brought and to secure “Not Guilty” verdicts when felony cases go to trial. Enlisting the services of a skilled criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the field of digital forensics will help you construct a compelling defense and ensure that your rights are protected throughout every phase of the legal process.

If you are facing a felony charge in Clark County or the greater Vancouver area, call The Vern McCray Law Firm, PLLC, at (360) 834-6262 to consult with a skilled and highly qualified criminal defense lawyer who will work to defend your legal rights.

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