This is why computer evidence -- such as the email itself -- cannot outweigh the underlying crime. What is being investigated is a threat against human life. The search warrant needs to outline what criminal offense is being investigated (in this case email threats), where or what will be searched, what is expected to be found there, why there is reason to believe it is there, and how it is relevant to the crime. The search warrant is as much to find innocence as it is to find guilt. Westfall may be approached and asked directly for permission to search or a search warrant is needed. In the home, the computer, as mentioned, is the main piece of evidence needed in order to establish whether or not the emails came from Westfall's computer.
While investigating this threatening email and Westfall (the main suspect), it is important for the investigator to heed the law; suspects still have all the legal rights and protections afforded them per the United States Constitution (Reyes & Brittson 2007). "Reading emails, intercepting communication, searching and copying computer data may land you in hot water if you do not have the proper permissions, or authority to do so" (2007). All investigations including computer crimes must follow certain forensic procedures in order for evidence to be admissible as well as to avoid civil and criminal liability. The Fourth Amendment, Electronic Communications Privacy Act (18 U.S.C. § 2501 et seq.), Electronic Communications Privacy Act (18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq.), Pen Register and Trap and Trace Statute (18 U.S.C. § 3121 et seq.), Title III Wiretaps, and applicable state laws must all be considered (Gonzales et al., 2007).
Speaking to Westfall, the suspected sender, may have some negative ramifications. For one, it may give time to clean the computer and rid it of some evidence. If there was a legal challenge posed, there are several ways an interview could go. Westfall may be willing to cooperate with law enforcement or he may attain a lawyer, which in that case, the ways in which the investigator obtained information may come into question. If Mr. Westfall does not allow a search of his ...
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The search warrant needs to outline what criminal offense is being investigated (in this case email threats), where or what will be searched, what is expected to be found there, why there is reason to believe it is there, and how it is relevant to the crime. The search warrant is as much to find innocence as it is to find guilt. Westfall may be approached and asked directly for permission to search or a search warrant is needed. In the home, the computer, as mentioned, is the main piece of evidence needed in order to establish whether or not the emails came from Westfall's computer.
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