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Captcha
09-18-2011, 05:29 PM
I have a woman living under house arrest in California. The owner of the home has loaned her a variety of electronics - computer, iPad, etc. The house would have a land-line phone. The only electronic device she'd have of her own is a cell phone, and it would probably be some sort of pay&talk plan, because she's been a fugitive for over a decade. (If it helps, I can have her without a cell phone as a term of her house arrest, or because it got broken...)

The woman is suspected of being involved in a kidnapping, with the victim still missing. I want the house owner (the guardian of the kidnapping victim) to take all of the electronics, search the phone records, etc. The police are involved, so he can get search warrants or whatever is needed, but I'm assuming that since he owns the electronics, he'll just take them back and have his computer experts search them.

The woman is a savvy criminal, but not a electronics genius. Like, she'd erase browser history and cookies, but she wouldn't go past that level of security.

I want the homeowner and his people to find evidence that the woman has been in some sort of contact with her ex (a fugitive with links to organized crime), but I want it to take them a while - at least 24 hours.

What information would they be able to find, and how long would it take them?

ETA: Okay, new plan -- what if she were clean on the iPad and laptop, but had been communicating through her xBox? (I don't have an xBox, but players can send messages to each other, right?). Does anyone know how that would work? And would there be a record anywhere of in-game conversations between two players?

Thanks for any help!

ironmikezero
09-18-2011, 10:31 PM
The records of real interest would be with the service provider. Access would be granted pursuant to a subpoena, or possibly a search warrant. Considerable data would still be available on the devices' hard drives despite her efforts to delete. Details as specific as keystrokes can sometimes be recovered under the right circumstances.

Jim might be able to offer some guidance re: expectation of privacy with borrowed gear, but conditions of house arrest might render that issue moot.

The truth is that there is really very little true privacy in this digital age.

areteus
09-19-2011, 01:50 AM
Additionally, if the house owner has a mail server set up and that is the only one connected to the internet directly (the other devices connecting to it through a LAN) then her deletions will only affect the local hard drive of the device. There will still be a record of everything on the mail server and he has access to that.

One thing to consider, some mobile phones (particularly smart phones) can be set up as a modem or a wireless hotspot which carry a data signal on the 3G network. OK, data charges may be an issue in a PAYG but she could send some less traceable message on the IPad using that as a connection rather than going through the house network (which is the first one they will check...)

frimble3
09-19-2011, 02:02 AM
OT, but why would she be under house arrest in the house of the kidnapping victim's guardian?
If he doesn't lock her in the basement and try to torture a confession out of her, maybe they're in on the kidnap together? I can't see a good reason for doing this.
Why would the authorities agree to it? Why would she? And, if she's only a 'suspect', why is she under house-arrest? I can see 'not able to leave town', but locking her in her victim's guardian's house seems odd.

jaksen
09-19-2011, 02:57 AM
OT, but why would she be under house arrest in the house of the kidnapping victim's guardian?
If he doesn't lock her in the basement and try to torture a confession out of her, maybe they're in on the kidnap together? I can't see a good reason for doing this.
Why would the authorities agree to it? Why would she? And, if she's only a 'suspect', why is she under house-arrest? I can see 'not able to leave town', but locking her in her victim's guardian's house seems odd.

Precisely.

Captcha
09-19-2011, 05:37 AM
Sorry for any confusion - the kidnapping happens AFTER she's under house arrest. He thought she was turning over a new leaf and confessing to her crimes, so he arranged a house arrest for her while her plea bargain was being figured out (she's eight months pregnant, he wants to adopt the baby, etc. - lots of complications). THEN his sister goes missing, and in the course of investigating the disappearance, suspicion naturally falls on the felon living in his guest house.

frimble3
09-19-2011, 06:35 AM
Sorry for any confusion - the kidnapping happens AFTER she's under house arrest. He thought she was turning over a new leaf and confessing to her crimes, so he arranged a house arrest for her while her plea bargain was being figured out (she's eight months pregnant, he wants to adopt the baby, etc. - lots of complications). THEN his sister goes missing, and in the course of investigating the disappearance, suspicion naturally falls on the felon living in his guest house.
Okay, that makes more sense, thanks for the clarification.
Also, I am a dinosaur, I have nothing helpful to add to the computer/modern tech side of things, but if she wants to communicate undetected, how about 'old-school'? Get food delivered, tip the delivery guy to deliver a message. If the ex is hanging around the non-takeout part of the restaurant, nothing would be visible. Or, heck, have the ex drive the delivery car.

Captcha
09-19-2011, 02:53 PM
Nothing wrong with old-school, frimble, especially when it sounds like it might just work... hmmmm....

jclarkdawe
09-19-2011, 04:23 PM
Sorry for any confusion - the kidnapping happens AFTER she's under house arrest. He thought she was turning over a new leaf and confessing to her crimes, so he arranged a house arrest for her while her plea bargain was being figured out (she's eight months pregnant, he wants to adopt the baby, etc. - lots of complications). Prior to the plea and sentencing going through, you're on bail. The chances of a fugitive over a decade getting bail are somewhat south of realistic. Take a look at Whitey Bulger's girlfriend. Bail conditions can be whatever the judge wants or an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant. It definitely can include an ankle bracelet. (Even with a bracelet, no one is going to trust someone who was a long-term fugitive. I had a client who disappeared for about five years before being found. The judge and I could barely keep straight faces as I argued for bail. Even though this was only a misdemeanor, there's no way anyone would let this guy go until they got their jail time out of him.) THEN his sister goes missing, and in the course of investigating the disappearance, suspicion naturally falls on the felon living in his guest house. At which point they revoke her bail. Being suspected is not being of good behavior. Pregnancy is not an issue. No one would screw around if there's any chance she knew anything about a kidnapping. Hell, I'm defense oriented, and if I was a judge, I'd yank her bail so fast her baby would probably be born from the speed she's going to jail.


The records of real interest would be with the service provider. Access would be granted pursuant to a subpoena, or possibly a search warrant. Considerable data would still be available on the devices' hard drives despite her efforts to delete. Details as specific as keystrokes can sometimes be recovered under the right circumstances. Iron Mike is right, but he doesn't mention how slow service providers are to allow access. You can have them screw around for two or three days after being served with a warrant.

Jim might be able to offer some guidance re: expectation of privacy with borrowed gear, but conditions of house arrest might render that issue moot. Short version is that although I'd argue to the contrary, there is no expectation of privacy on borrowed equipment. This would be bail, not house arrest, and it would be determined by the specific conditions in either case of the agreement.

The truth is that there is really very little true privacy in this digital age. So true. And electronics can be searched in many places where we wouldn't even think of.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Captcha
09-20-2011, 01:59 AM
I was basing the house-arrest stuff on the DSK case - he was confined to a town house after being charged. I do have a character acknowledging that my felon's getting a really sweet deal. The press used 'house arrest' for him, but is that not the appropriate term?

Good info about the electronics - thanks!

jclarkdawe
09-20-2011, 05:09 AM
Yeah, I believe everything reporters say. Or even attorneys in press conferences.

DSK was on bail, and a condition of his bail, was required to stay in his house. Technically. Popular term for this is house arrest.

Some people are allowed to serve their jail sentence at home, such as I believe Lindsay Lohen was. Popular term for this is house arrest.

Big difference legally and practically. DSK hasn't been convicted of any crime, Lohen has been. More importantly to your story, Lohen if suspected of committing another crime would be back in jail immediately. No hearing necessary. DSK would have to be violated on his bail conditions and entitled to a hearing.

You need to understand the differences to avoid making mistakes.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe