Washington Legal Roundup – Division I
Christopher Garbaccio was convicted of possessing child pornography. On appeal, he argued that the search warrant allowing law enforcement to search his computer was invalid because it had been 5 months since the investigating detective had first identified Mr. Garbaccio’s IP address as being one associated with computer files containing child pornography. The Court of Appeals held that unlike drugs, which are usually consumed or sold relatively quickly, computer files remain on a computer for long periods of time and even if deleted, metadata that the file existed on the computer can remain indefinitely.
Mr. Garbaccio also claimed on appeal that the search warrant was invalid because it stated that Mr. Garbaccio was intentionally sharing files on the Gnutella network. Mr. Garbaccio claimed that sharing was the default setting on his peer to peer sharing software and that the statement in the affidavit of probable cause was, therefore, false. The Court of Appeals held that it would not consider this issue because it had been raised for the first time on appeal.
Mr. Garbaccio also claimed on appeal that the trial court erred by refusing to give his proposed jury instructions. The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that the State need only have proved that Mr. Garbaccio knowingly possessed child pornography. The length of time during which he did so, the Court reasoned, was unimportant. The Court of Appeals further held that the jury was properly instructed on the law.
Note to criminal lawyers and the public: Crimes involving use of computers and the Internet continue and will continue to be hard to put in the same box as other criminal offenses.