The present paper aims at analyzing the forensic procedures that should be applied by criminal investigators inquiring into the case of a person suspected of illegal firework production. Among other things, while collecting and processing the data from digital devices found in the suspect’s house, investigators should act in accordance with the Fourth and the Fifth Amendments, stating suspects’ rights for proper investigation and protecting them from double jeopardy. Therefore, there are a lot of requirements that specialists from the case must meet to ensure proper investigation. All the files should be properly copied and protected with the help of recommended programs for investigators; for better protection, equipment used for data processing should be new as well. Apart from that, files have to be processed using approved applications such as Encase and Gargoyle.
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Those working in federal crime laboratories should be aware of any changes related to the process of taking and analyzing evidence as it remains an extremely important part of work that has an impact on crime detection rates in the United States. In the given case that we are supposed to analyze, the specialists were supposed to conduct the investigation and collect the information concerning the activities of a person suspected of manufacturing and distribution of prohibited goods – illegal fireworks explosives. Speaking about the way that the unlawful activity was discovered, it needs to be mentioned that the information was found a short while ago when the fire-fighting crew was supposed to extinguish the fire that started in a house belonging to the person suspected. Thus, when the fire-fighting brigade entered the house of the suspect, they discovered a great number of explosives, and due to that, they had to leave the house immediately. During the search and seizure, specialists responsible for the investigation of the case managed to find different devices such as phones, laptops, and computers. Due to the necessity to follow the rules for conducting forensic procedures, it is mandatory for them to understand the way that assumptions outlined in the Fourth and the Fifth Amendments influence approaches they will utilize in order to collect and process the evidence from the devices found.
Discussing the case that junior specialists are supposed to work with, it is necessary to note that the necessity to act in accordance with the two Amendments to the Constitution of the United States can definitely become a factor making their work more difficult.
To begin with, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was accepted at the end of the eighteenth century. The given improvement was formulated in order to introduce new rules for those people conducting investigations. In fact, up until the adoption of the Fourth Amendment, those responsible for investigations were allowed to obtain the right to search citizens’ houses based on one document, a specific type of warrant raid. In order to be allowed to do a search, criminal investigators needed only to inform the government about the reason why the search was necessary. Considering the way to obtain this permission, it is obvious that there was a great number of people abusing their power and using their positions in society to fulfill their own goals. For instance, unprincipled criminal investigators could use this rule in order to get even with certain people they disliked.
More than that, misusing those rules, they could confiscate certain things unlawfully. It is clear that such a state of matters caused a lot of problems, and this is why the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution was proposed. According to it, crime investigators are not allowed to do a search if the reason for that is not justified (Kerr, 2017). Also, according to the Fourth Amendment, investigators cannot detain suspects if they do not have a general warrant. What is more, as is clear from the discussed document, crime investigators can get general warrants and search warrants only under the court decision. In reference to the discussed situation, it means that investigators should appeal to a court to get a search warrant, explain the case, and justify their decision. After that, they can do a search in the suspect’s house in accordance with all the laws. Due to the Fourth Amendment, citizens are protected from unlawful actions, but in this situation, the reason for rummage and computer evidence collection is obvious.
Apart from that, conducting their investigation and collecting the information about the suspect and his illegal activity, criminal investigators from the case should take into consideration another Amendment to the Constitution that relates to the case as well.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States attempts to solve the range of problems that may occur during the investigation and judicial process (Warwick & Shah, 2017). It was accepted at the end of the eighteenth century due to the fact that the absence of rules concerning appropriate practices during legal argument could lead to multiple cases of the violation of rights of defendants. In general, the given correctives are necessary as they protect people accused of different crimes; according to them, defendants should be provided with all the evidence against them in court as accusations not supported by proof are not allowed.
More than that, any person who is proved to be a criminal should be punished for his or her inappropriate actions only once; thus, there is no way to change the measure of punishment defined in court or to bring a person to responsibility twice as it is impossible. In reference to the case of the person who is suspected of illegal production of fireworks explosives, it needs to be said that crime investigators will have to collect enough evidence abiding by the laws of the United States in order to avoid violating the rights of the suspect. Also, there is one important point related to the Amendment discussed. When it comes to legal disputes and defendants are given the right to explain the way they see the situation, it is prohibited to force them to provide the information that could be regarded as an argument in favor of their culpability (Thompson, 2015). Apart from that, defendants are not allowed to act as witnesses at all. Therefore, criminal investigators from the case should be careful during the process.
According to the case, the number of devices found includes a network of computers, laptops, and cell phones. In order to collect and process the evidence following the principles mentioned above, criminal investigators should understand that the Amendments can be applied to these devices as well. For instance, any person is allowed to have privacies of life, and the information stored on one’s home computer can be seen as private too, and this fact may be regarded as an important problem for criminal investigators. The primary focus during computer investigation should be put on searching the relevant files and proper copying (Kortsarts, 2017). In order to conduct the process corresponding to the requirements, investigators should make sure that relevant files are protected, and third parties have no opportunity to use the files or change them. To process the data found on laptops and computers belonging to the suspect, investigators may use special programs such as EnCase that quickly analyzes great amounts of data (Britz, 2013).
It is important to ensure proper investigation, and this is why legal investigators must document all applications and devices they were using; also, the data on all files (including the damaged ones) should be presented. To continue, the equipment used for evidence processing should be new and contain no programs that may interfere with the analysis. In general, the data collected should include both the information on the physical characteristics of each device (color, model, condition, available certificates, etc.) and the properties of files found. As for cell phones and PDAs, they should be confiscated following the permission obtained in court; the evidence that can be retrieved with the help of cell phones includes short messages and conversation recordings that may point at crime partners (Curtis, Gizzi, & Kittleson, 2014). Nevertheless, the latter should be of high quality to prove that they are original. Another important point is the security of data; it is obligatory for investigators to conduct virus-checking prior to data collection using Gargoyle or other programs (Britz, 2013).
In the end, following the Fourth and the Fifth Amendments that touch upon fairness towards suspects and their right to a proper and thorough investigation, investigators from the case should justify every argument they use and document all the findings. More than that, necessary procedures include the use of new digital devices, recommended scanning programs, and approved antivirus software.
Britz, M. T. (2013). Computer forensics and cyber crime: An introduction. New York, NY: Pearson.
Curtis, R. C., Gizzi, M. C., & Kittleson, M. J. (2014). Using technology the founders never dreamed of: Cell phones as tracking devices and the Fourth Amendment. University of Denver Criminal Law Review, 4(1), 61-131.
Kerr, O. S. (2017). The effect of legislation on Fourth Amendment protection. Michigan Law Review, 115(1), 1117-1213.
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Kortsarts, Y. (2017). Teaching computer forensics course: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 32(6), 208-209.
Thompson, M. J. (2015). Salinas v. Texas: The Fifth Amendment self-incrimination burden. Capital University Law Review, 43(1), 19.
Warwick, K., & Shah, H. (2017). Taking the Fifth Amendment in Turing’s imitation game. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, 29(2), 287-297.