Frequently Asked Questions
What If I Accidentally Downloaded?
Downloading child pornography is an extremely serious offence, and possession is subject to a six-month minimum penitentiary sentence. With the Internet, child pornography is more accessible than ever. As child pornography is often a cybercrime, the Guelph Regional Police has an Internet Child Exploitation Unit that works internationally with agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the National Child Exploitation Crime Center (NCECC). Any download or access of child pornography may be found by the police. A search warrant will then be ordered.
After the seizure of electronic devices, the police will examine the files on hand. Through the metadata, they can see how many files the suspect has, when it was downloaded and how long it was on the hard drive. Accidental downloads, as a defence, is not very commonly used. An accidental download must be a legitimate thing and usually must be accompanied with some sort of forensic evidence. It is important for the accused upon arrest to get a lawyer as soon as possible and know their rights.
Common Types of Disclosure
Disclosure is where the Crown gives the materials of the case to the defence. The Crown must disclose all materials in a criminal proceeding that is inculpatory or exculpatory as evidence. This is in accordance with a principle of fundamental justice that the defence has a right to know the case to meet and the right to give a full answer.
There can be many types of disclosure. Common types of disclosure can include: the accused’s criminal record, witness statements, police officer statements and hard drive copies. Child pornography cases usually contain more disclosure, as the police need to create an extraction report for the materials found. In child pornography cases, the police will usually create an extraction report, which reports how many files of child pornography was present in the hard drive, or whether there were any duplicates. Other types of disclosure include the warrants used to search the residence, production orders for Internet companies, as well as information to obtain for the judge.
Why Does Disclosure Take So Long in Guelph?
Child pornography may take longer than regular disclosure. To begin disclosure, the police first collect everything and start a case file. Upon the accused’s arrest, the case file and accompanying information will be given to the Crown’s office. The Crown will then undertake two screening processes: screening the file as well as screening for a position for the Crown. The Crown will then vet the files, redacting any personal information. It often takes several months for Crown to go through the screening and vetting process.
In addition, the devices containing child pornography may be password protected, which requires time and effort on the part of the police to extract the information. Professionals will also watch the extracted child pornography and provide a description to the court as to what the child pornography contained.
Process of Getting Disclosure in Guelph
The process of getting disclosure from the local Guelph Crown’s office varies from office to office. Usually, a lawyer is retained, and the defence communicates with the Crown on the matters of disclosure. A large amount of disclosure may come with a long waiting time for its release. It is important that after disclosure, for the accused to connect with the Crown to discuss the next steps of the proceedings. It is important to retain a lawyer early—the lawyer will connect and communicate with the Crown for the accused.
Common Bail Conditions
After a person is released on bail, there are a few conditions that they must follow. These are called bail conditions, and any violation of them may be a criminal offence. One of the most common bail conditions would be notify the officer in charge if there was a change in employer or address. There are also some bail conditions specific to child pornography charges. Due to the gravity of the offence, the bailee must reside in a residence with a named surety and must remain there for the full duration of the case. In addition to this is an Internet ban, with the condition of not using any device or anything that can access the internet. If the accused needs the internet for work, they may be allowed access to it, but only in the presence of a surety. This is to ensure that the accused has zero access to child pornography.
The accused also cannot be within a certain range where minors are expected to be. They are not allowed near schools, parks, playgrounds, or community centres. There would also be no direct or indirect contact with anyone under the age of 18 unless the accused is in the presence of their surety. This is to ensure that all parties remain safe, especially during a criminal proceeding.