When we talk about computer forensics and investigations, the question that crops up is; will the legal aid agency fund my case?
In most cases, if you are in receipt of a legal aid certificate, your solicitor can ask the LAA if the certificate will cover the cost. Once approved, from the Legal Aid Agency these are the steps we take to ensure all paperwork is correct and the examination can be completed without complications.
We will ask your solicitor to provide us with a copy of:
The prosecution report
Copy of the indictment
All paperwork is thoroughly read and digested so we know what the prosecutions intentions are and, if they have followed the correct procedures. It also gives us an insight to what tools they have used to perform their investigation. This can be key in some cases because of limitations in the software etc..
A quotation will be provided to your solicitor for submission to the LAA. Prior authority is usually granted within 5-10 days dependant on the volume of submissions the Legal Aid Agency are dealing with. Urgent submissions can be dealt with within a shorter time-frame. Whilst we are waiting for prior authority to come through, we will chase the location of the exhibits and put steps in place to aid the collection by one of our staff unless we do the imaging on-site.
3EF will complete the examination taking in to account counsel's advice. A report will be written with our findings and sent to your solicitor and Counsel if requested. Any additional work will have to go through the same process.
Computer forensics can be quite complex in some cases but, in your defence, we aim to make the process as smooth as uncomplicated as possible.
Prior to starting a project whether it is a computer forensic examination or an e-Disclosure exercise, you will have to think about data collection.
It is important that the handling, imaging and preservation of data is done the right way. Failure to do so may result in the data being inadmissible as evidence.
3EF are unparalleled when it comes to data collection. After all, when the evidence is presented in court, you want to be in a position of strength rather than on the back foot.
Maintaining the validity and the integrity of the data is as important as finding the evidence.
Some of the questions you should be asking when facing data collection and e-Disclosure exercises are:
Data collection can be difficult if a business is still running and 3EF offer an out of hour’s collection service to minimise disruption.
It may only be necessary to extract certain files or folders held on computers or servers reducing the time spent on-site.
You may ask yourself “why should I have a mobile phone examined if the prosecution have already completed their examination”
You should then ask yourself “why should I rely on the prosecution’s evidence”. We all know that mobile forensic software is pretty similar but, they do differ slightly. What one software can pick up, may not have been entirely extractable from another software. With different versions and updates coming through on a regular basis, it may be possible to pick up on evidence left behind by the prosecution. Maybe the prosecution have done their mobile phone forensic download some time ago and a new version supports what you are looking for.
Let’s also look at the fact that the prosecution will only need evidence which is relevant to their case which is why it is imperative that you have an independent company like 3EF to conduct the defence examination.
It is important to keep data in context. If the prosecution are extracting messages for example, they may not be presented in its entirety or context. For example, a recent case of harassment shown the defendant (who had a restraining order) texting his ex-partner, what the prosecution failed to show was, the claimant started the conversations with promise to withdraw the complaint. Showing the conversation in its entirety also proved that the claimant was not being truthful with her complaint.
In this age of technology, mobile phones leave a vast digital trail which can be easily extracted through forensic software. It is imperative that you have this option for your defence and not rely on the prosecution’s evidence.