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Can My Search History Be Used as Evidence?

Even if you search online using incognito mode or delete your internet search history, your online history is not private. Not only do internet providers still have access to what you look up but the information can be discovered (or subpoenaed) and submitted as evidence in your criminal case.

Can Your Browser Data Be Subpoenaed?

Yes, your internet and online information (including your search history) can be subpoenaed by the opposing counsel; in some cases, your computer may also be subpoenaed. It may also be obtained as a part of a sting operation, which involves law enforcement officers posing as online users with the intent to get other users to admit to a crime or engage in illegal activity (i.e. soliciting a minor, discussing a potentially fraudulent scheme, etc.).

The prosecution may use your internet search history as evidence in a wide variety of cases. For example, they may establish that you stalked someone who has protective orders against you. Your search history can also establish you had a motive, committed an internet-related offense or sex crime (child pornography), or had knowledge of how or the intent to commit a crime (i.e. you looked up local meth dealers near me in Google).

Other Types of Internet (or Online) Evidence that Is Admissible

Your computer and your search history are not the only types of online evidence that can be admitted as evidence. Other types of internet evidence that can be obtained and presented in court include (but are not limited to):

  • Your IP address
  • Downloaded files
  • Social media content (posts, comments, direct messages, etc.)
  • YouTube videos you’ve uploaded
  • Any other digital evidence that is deemed relevant

Can Your Attorney Get Internet Evidence Dismissed?

Any evidence that the prosecution or defense wishes to submit to the court must adhere to certain legal requirements. Your defense attorney can work to have the evidence deemed inadmissible and dismissed. Specifically, they can argue that your search history or other internet-related evidence is:

  • Irrelevant to the case
  • Being taken out of context and is not connected to the charges/case
  • Is fruit of the poisonous tree, which means that the evidence was illegally obtained.

The potential strategy for getting evidence dismissed will depend on your case specifics, and even if they cannot get the evidence dismissed, they can still demonstrate that the evidence is circumstantial or being taken out of confidence during the trial.

Can the Police Search My Computer Without a Warrant?

If you (or another owner of a shared device) consent to a search, the police do not need a warrant to access your computer. However, if you have not consented, they will need a warrant to enter your home and search your computer as long as the device is included in the scope of the warrant.

Consult with Our Attorney

At the Law Office of Steven Fine, our attorney has over 20 years of experience. We can help you develop a solid defense strategy (that accounts for evidence the prosecution may submit to the court). We are equipped to help clients with sex and internet crime cases involving:

  • Child pornography
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual abuse
  • Molestation
  • Rape
  • Internet crimes, such as computer tampering, fraud, hacking, etc.

Learn more about our services today by calling (312) 436-0638 or completing this online form.