Digital Evidence Procedures and Practices for Investigators, Prosecutors, & Allied Professionals

Expert Witness 

Testifying as an Expert Witness: This presentation is geared toward any witness who expects to testify at trial as an expert. It covers the difference between lay and opinion testimony and direct and cross-examination. Special focus is paid to curriculum vitaes, or witness résumés. The audience is given examples of practical methods to use to avoid potential pitfalls of providing expert testimony. 

Effective Use of the Expert Witness: What expert to use? What should they testify about? How in-depth should their opinion be? This presentation answers these and other questions about using an expert witness at trial. Specific case examples illustrate how an expert witness may assist your trier of fact. 

Cross-Examination of the Expert Witnesses: One of the most difficult tasks a prosecutor faces during trial is confronting the defense expert witnesses. This presentation covers the three stages to successfully prepare and present an effective cross-examination of any type of defense expert: the pre-trial information gathering stage, developing potential areas to conduct the cross-examination, and creating an effective cross-examination for court.  The audience learns practical potential methods to cross-examine an expert witness, including how to critically review the expert’s background, the basis for his or her opinion, and the ultimate opinion in order to develop and present a successful cross-examination. 

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) and the Legal Process: The role of a SANE is critical to the process of investigating child abuse allegations. Equally important is the ability to present SANE testimony at a court proceeding. This presentation covers the role of the SANE at trial and provides suggestions for presenting SANE testimony in the strongest manner. 

Trial Advocacy

Preparing for and Testifying in Court: This presentation explores the role of witnesses in court and explains how to adequately prepare for direct and cross-examinations. The target audience includes any law enforcement personnel, civilian witnesses, or parole or probation officers involved in a criminal proceeding. Attendees learn about the difference between direct and cross-examination. The presentation outlines some of the common witness pitfalls to avoid during direct examination and describes strategies that defense attorneys employ during cross-examination. 

Building a Strong Case: Pre-Trial Strategies in Child Abuse Cases: This presentation focuses on the pre-trial elements necessary to build a successful child exploitation prosecution. The audience learns about using different motions in limine to educate the court on creating a more child-friendly atmosphere for trial. Attendees learn how to prepare victims for court and get suggestions for handing children who “freeze” on the witness stand. The presentation also covers the use of CCTV to facilitate the child’s testimony during trial. 

Voir Dire/Jury Selection: This presentation covers the proper ways to conduct voir dire. It focuses on different ways to introduce technology through voir dire and how to educate the jury about the issues they will face during the trial. The audience learns different ways to gain potential juror trust and methods to determine whether a potential juror is appropriate for your case. 

Opening Statements and Closing Argument: This presentation focuses on the planning, strategy, and implementation of powerful opening statements and closing arguments at trial. Attendees learn the importance of theme and theory in developing opening statements and closing arguments. The presentation highlights particularly effective methods to use in trial. 

Cross-Examining Defendants and Defense Lay Witnesses: The art of cross-examination is one of the most difficult skills a prosecutor must master. The best cross-examiners often will develop three phases of the cross-examination process. This presentation explores each of those phases and explains how a prosecutor should approach each element to create the most productive cross-examination in court. 

Preparing a Child for Court and What To Do When the Child Freezes in Court: One of the most overlooked issues for a lawyer in developing adversarial skills is the process of preparing a child witness to testify in court. Equally important is the process of using pre-trial motions to educate and prepare the court for a child. This presentation covers both of these issues and provides tangible examples that lawyers and child advocates can use to prepare for a child entering a courtroom. 

Authenticating Digital Evidence in Court: This presentation covers the various types of evidence that investigators can gather from cyberspace and cellular phone providers. The audience is shown case law examples for authenticating emails, chats, and other technological evidence. The presentation also gives examples of what type of witnesses are needed to lay the proper foundation for admitting digital evidence. 

Corroboration: The Key to Child Exploitation Cases: Supporting a child’s disclosure through corroborative evidence is essential in child abuse investigations and prosecutions. This presentation covers the potential areas to discover corroborative evidence, and explains the importance of technology-based corroboration. The audience is shown detailed examples of how statements made during the disclosure leads to corroborative evidence. 

Behind the Net: Using Technology to Corroborate Child Disclosures: In this presentation, the audience learns the importance of incorporating digital evidence into a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) investigation. The presentation explains the different types of technology now available. Attendees gain knowledge of specific examples and questions to interject into a forensic interview and learn the steps necessary to secure technological evidence. 

Technology-Facilitated Child Sexual Exploitation (TFCSE) 

High-Tech Grooming: The sophistication of offenders who groom children has increased with the widespread use of technology and the explosion of the Internet. In this presentation, the audience learns the fundamentals of grooming behavior and how to look for evidence of victim seduction. This interactive presentation demonstrates how offenders use technology to facilitate their exploitation. 

Cloud Computing: What it is, and How to Get Information from the Cloud to Prove Your Case: As society increasingly relies on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to access the Internet, the use of the “cloud” has expanded. This presentation helps the audience understand what cloud computing is, and how it works. Attendees are shown the necessary steps to preserve, seize and search evidence in the cloud. 

The Compliant Victim/Adolescent Victims: Technological exploitation cases often involve a compliant victim. Understanding the complicated adolescent mind and compliant victim dynamics are imperative to a thorough investigation and successful prosecution. This presentation describes characteristics commonly seen in adolescent victims and provides suggestions for working with compliant victims. 

Technology-Facilitated Child Sexual Exploitation (TFCSE)—An Overview: This presentation is an overview of the complex situations and cases that arise through technological exploitation of children. It covers the three common types of cases investigators and prosecutors will encounter and the role technology plays in the exploitation. It also reviews the power of social media and its role in TFCSE cases. Attendees also learn some of the characteristics of offender behavior associated with TFCSE. 

Testifying Tips for Investigators: Receiving a notice to appear or a subpoena can cause a potential witness to feel nervous and anxious. This interactive presentation discusses testifying and provides concrete suggestions for enduring the witness stand. The audience learns the difference between direct and cross-examination, as well as common defense attorney tactics intended to destroy witness credibility.

Cyberbullying: Sexting, Sexploitation and Sextortion: Technology plays a role in many aspects of bullying today. This presentation describes the different characteristics of traditional bullying versus bullying that is facilitated by technology.  It also explores the roles of sexting, sexploitation, and sextortion in cyberbulling. The presentation also examines current trends, studies, and case law on cyberbullying. 

Protecting Adolescent Victims in an Increasingly Online World: This presentation explores how technology use has saturated children’s lives and creates potential pitfalls for them—pitfalls that were not present as recently as 5 to 10 years ago. It discusses the roles of emerging technologies as they relate to children, devices, and social networking sites, and demonstrates different methods to protect adolescents online.

Search and Seizure: This presentation explores the different types of search and seizure used in TFCSE cases. The audience learns the differences between a consent search and a search warrant, and discusses applicable cases for each. The presentation covers the Federal privacy statutes that apply when investigators seek information from service providers and the importance of cloud investigations in TFCSE cases.  It also addresses the applicable portions of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Privacy Protection Act—and specifically communicates this vital information to ensure investigators and prosecutors understand when either act applies. 

Federal Privacy Statutes: This presentation explains the relevance of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Privacy Protection Act. The audience learns how these two federal statutes control how information is preserved and recovered from cyberspace. The presentation also explains the background of cloud computing. 

Peer-to-Peer for Prosecutors: With the proliferation of cases involving child exploitation through peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, it is imperative that prosecutors and investigators have a fundamental understanding of what these networks are and how they work. This presentation explains P2P networks in-depth and how offenders use them to facilitate child exploitation. Attendees learn about issues with charging decisions and proof of intent and knowledge. 

Understanding Computer Forensics Reports: What is this report? How do I use it in my case? This presentation answers these questions and more by walking attendees through the top forensic artifacts in computer forensic reports. It explains the significance of the forensic artifacts and shows how to incorporate them into trial. 

Combating Technical and Legal Defenses: This presentation covers the five most common technology and legal defenses to TFCSE cases. Attendees learn about the technology behind the defenses and are given creative suggestions for defeating case challenges. 

Computer Forensics for Prosecutors: Digital evidence is pervasive in today’s criminal trials, making it imperative that prosecutors understand the intricacies of computer forensics in order to try to win cases. This presentation covers the fundamentals of computer forensics, and discusses the many forensic artifacts that are useful to prove up a variety of criminal charges. 

Direct Examination of a Computer Forensic Examiner: This presentation focuses on the fundamentals of presenting a forensic examiner at trial. It highlights possible exhibits that prosecutors can use to help explain technology devices and computer forensics during the foundation portion of the examination. Attendees are provided tips for effectively presenting computer forensic evidence at trial. 

Direct Examination of an Investigator in Child Exploitation Cases: The significance of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) investigator to a case is often not realized. This presentation provides participants with examples of how the ICAC investigator may be called as an expert witness to help illuminate potential areas of guilt of an offender.

Cross-Examination of Defense Experts in Technology-Facilitated Child Exploitation Cases: This presentation gives the audience tips and examples of ways to cross-examine defense experts in cases involving a technology-facilitated crime against a child. Attendees learn possible ways to defeat some of the more common defenses that are often raised by experts. 

Internet Service Providers: What Information is Available to Corroborate Your Case: A mobile device, including a smartphone or tablet, can leave evidence or a “digital footprint” from its use. This presentation explains what types of evidence investigators may recover from cyberspace.  It also discusses the role of digital footprints as a part of almost every crime scene, and attendees learn evidence-based practices to preserve, seize, and search evidence from cyberspace. 

Using Digital Evidence to Corroborate Your Case: This presentation and demonstration explores the various elements of crimes that might be used to support the prosecution of TFCSE cases. It covers both technical and non-technical evidence at various crime scenes and demonstrates how there is usually evidence left behind that points to knowledge and intent in these cases. 

Emerging Technologies: New technological advances are added to the consumer marketplace at a constant and rapid pace. Understanding where children are going on the web and how offenders are using the newest technology to groom and exploit children is imperative to any agency handling the investigation or prosecution of child sexual exploitation. This presentation covers some of the newest technological devices and discusses how they are being used to facilitate child exploitation. 

Charging Decisions, Pre-Trial Motions and Discovery Issues: “These are the most horrible images I have ever seen!” is a sentiment often uttered by prosecutors after viewing images of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation. This presentation discusses the various methods to charge TFCSE cases and provides valuable information on forensic artifacts that will assist in proving intent and knowledge. Attendees learn about different types of pre-trial motions to educate the court and provide for a more efficient trial. Attendees also learn the implications and current case law on whether to turn over child sexual exploitation images and movies to the defense during the discovery process. 

Child Sexual Abuse 

Investigating/Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse: This introductory presentation covers some of the basics of child abuse investigations and prosecutions. It discusses the role of a multi-disciplinary team, with a focus on corroboration of the forensic interview and where to find corroborating evidence. It also addresses the challenges specific to the trial of a child exploitation case. 

When a Child Takes it Back: Recantation in Cases of Child Abuse: “It didn’t happen…I take it back.” Hearing those words often cause a pit in the stomach of investigators and prosecutors handling child exploitation cases. This presentation discusses the process of recantation, and explores how to investigate a recantation and how to overcome issues of recantation at trial. Attendees learn different methods to investigate the recantation, as well as techniques to demonstrate how the recantation actually makes the prosecution’s case stronger. 

Preparing Children for Court /Preparing the Court for Children: The thought of having to testify often causes stress for adults and that stress is exponentially greater when a child must testify. This presentation explores different methods to prepare children for court, depending upon their age. It also discusses adolescent development and compliant victim dynamics. 

Overcoming Defenses in Child Exploitation Cases: There is no question that defense attorneys attack various aspects of child abuse investigations and prosecutions at trial. This presentation covers the most common defenses raised in child sexual and physical abuse cases. Attendees learn how the defenses are raised and are given strategies for defeating them. 

Investigating and Prosecuting Authority Figure Cases: While most child molesters—as adults—hold a position of authority or trust over children, there is a special type of offender that uses a position in society to gain the trust of adults or to gain access to children to perpetrate against them. These cases are often some of the most difficult for investigators and prosecutors, as the offenders live a dual lifestyle and are often regarded as pillars of the community. This presentation discusses some of the common issues that surface in these cases and provides suggestions to help reveal the true character of the offender. 

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: The Legal Landscape: This presentation examines current federal and state laws for prosecuting cases of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST). Attendees learn about states that are employing creative ways to prosecute human traffickers, as well as ways to protect the victims. The presentation covers the issues of immunity, expunged records, and limiting defense attacks on victims. 

Prosecution of Cases with Limited Evidence: This presentation defines and explores what is meant by “limited evidence.” Attendees learn the importance of the medical examination, discuss when to call a medical expert, and are given examples of possible themes to employ in these cases. The presentation also discusses methods to approach and overcome obstacles in these complicated cases. 

Behind the Net: Using Digital Evidence to Corroborate Your Case: In this presentation, the audience learns the importance of incorporating digital evidence into a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) investigation. The presentation reviews the current trends in social media sites used by children and shows examples of different types of technology teens and children are using. It also provides specific examples and questions investigators can introduce into a forensic interview and outlines the steps necessary to secure technological evidence. 

Child Fatalities And Child Physical Abuse 

Investigating and Prosecuting Child Physical Abuse: Understanding the complex nature of a child physical abuse case is a must for any investigator who handles crimes against children. These complex cases require an understanding of the nature of the crime, as well as how to collect and secure evidence. This presentation provides prosecutors and investigators with an understanding of different strategies to use in conducting a successful investigation and prosecution.