Thursday, February 22, 2018

Evidence Sufficient to Sustain CP Convictions

US v. Miltier: Investigators downloaded child pornography from an IP address they traced back to Miltier. They later executed a search warrant at his home, seizing a laptop and thumb drive that both contained images of child pornography. The laptop's only logged in email address was Miltier and he admitted that he used it. Several searches on the computer related to his work, his car, and home repairs he was making. He was charged with seven counts of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession. He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to concurrent terms of 120 months in prison and a lifetime term of supervised release.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed Miltier's convictions and sentence. First, he argued that the evidence on all counts was insufficient to show that he knowingly received or possessed the images in question. The court disagreed, noting that the "ten files that form the basis for these charges were found on the [laptop], and significant evidence links the computer to Miltier." He admitted knowing that the laptop included a peer-to-peer file sharing software, which showed evidence of searches relating to terms associated with child pornography. Second, Miltier argued that there was insufficient evidence on two counts to show that the files involved were downloaded from the internet and "thus the government failed to demonstrate the required interstate nexus element." The court rejected that argument, noting that there was evidence that those files had been downloaded by the peer-to-peer program. Third, the court rejected Miltier's argument that the Government was required to prove that the child pornography files themselves, rather than the laptop, had travelled in interstate commerce, concluding that "we find no indication in the statute that Congress intended to limit" the statute in such a way. Finally, the court rejected his argument that instructing the jury in that manner was a constructive amendment of the indictment.

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