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When Can a Google Search Result in Arrest?

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

December 28, 2018

From learning how to cook a certain recipe to conducting research on a historic event for a school report, billions of people throughout the world have used search engines such as Google and Bing to obtain information within a matter of seconds. However, there are some searches and certain words which will prompt a criminal investigation.

The following are the most common internet search terms which are illegal and can lead to an arrest:

  • Child pornography – Possession or viewing photographs or videos involving minor children engaging in sexual activity is a serious sex crime. Even merely searching for child pornography can result in a visit by law enforcement officials. When a search is made, it is automatically saved on your browser history or cookies. This type of digital footprint is considered enough evidence for police officers to decide you had the intention of watching child pornography and charge you with possession. Downloading child pornography will certainly result in an arrest.
  • Illegal streaming – Also known as torrenting, streaming has become one of the most popular forms of viewing content compared to watching cable television or going to the movies. However, if you stream copyrighted content without the owner’s consent, you could be criminally charged. Sharing or viewing copyrighted material violates federal copyright laws. A conviction can result in a lengthy prison sentence, costly fines, and other serious penalties.
  • Terrorism – Ever since 9/11, acts of terrorism has been one of the main focuses of cybersecurity investigators to thwart terrorist plans before they are executed. If you are curious about how bombs are made, or anything related to terrorism, you could wind up on a potential terrorist watch list.
  • Assassin for hire – Whether it’s watching child pornography or purchasing illegal drugs or weapons from the black market, the dark web is considered the online criminal underbelly. One of the most illegal things you can do is hire a hitman to kill someone. While this is obviously illegally, it is imperative not to let curiosity cause you take make such a search due to the legal repercussions of such actions.

If you have been arrested for an internet crime in Fort Lauderdale, contact our experienced legal team at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. and schedule an immediate consultation to discuss your case today.