According to news reports, Michael Anthony Torres is accused of sharing child pornography on an online file sharing network. Based on my experience as a criminal defense lawyer, I can tell you that prosecutors will likely begin plea negotiations in the area of 10 years.
From there, it is up to Michael Torres’ criminal defense attorney to work on the case and find grounds that would justify either a reduced plea agreement, a change of charge, dropping of charges, or trial.
Regardless, this type of possession of child pornography case is extremely common, and frankly, I find it shocking that people still use these online networks, knowing that they could get into a lot of trouble.
In these types of cases, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to surf the internet looking for people sharing child pornography. The most common places to find such persons is on file sharing networks where users can both upload and download child pornography.
Once a police investigator determines that a user has either uploaded or downloaded child pornography, the next step in the investigation is to ascertain that person’s IP address.
This is done with the use of commercially available software. It takes no special skill and pretty much can be accomplished by anyone.
Once police have acquired the suspect’s IP address, they will instantly know who the internet service provider is. In fact, IP address identification software will usually provide this information along with the IP address.
After an IP address and an internet service provider has been identified, police investigators will simply issue a subpeona duces tecum (which is a legal document that commands a party to produce information) to obtain the subscriber information associated with the IP address.
This information will always include a subscriber’s name and address. It will also include information about when the account was created and when it was terminated, if ever.
However, the investigation does not stop with the IP address and subscriber information. In fact, this is where the real police work begins.
Just because a person’s internet account was used to share child pornography on the internet, does not mean the named person in the internet account was the person who did the sharing or was the person who was in possession of child pornography.
For instance, one person may have the internet account for an entire household. Or, two roommates can share the same internet account even though it is purchased in only one person’s name.
At the same time, if an internet connection is not secure or is not password protected, any person with a computer or internet ready phone can “leach” of your internet connection and use it for whatever unauthorized purpose they wish.
For these reasons, police investigators must go a step further and determine who in fact was responsible for the possession of child pornography or its distribution.
Usually this will begin with surveillance. Police will want to determine how many people live at the residence and whether or not there are regular visitors.
Once this is complete, police will usually apply for a search warrant with a judge. Police will also try to make contact with the subscriber to see if that person is willing to talk to them.
In most cases, police will wait until they serve the search warrant to start questioning the subscriber.
This is where the possibility of a person’s right to remain silent comes in to play. When a person is in custody, police must advise the person that he/she has the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel. If this rule is violated, any statements obtained by law enforcement may be rendered inadmissible at trial.
Ultimately, Michael Torres has a very serious case and must obtain the best legal counsel he can afford as soon as possible. His case may present a number of legal defenses and needs to be evaluated sooner than later.