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What Internet Search Terms Can Lead to an Arrest?

Rather than going to the library or simply asking a friend, we now rely on online search engines such as Google or Bing to provide a practically endless amount of information on virtually any topic.

However, there are certain words and phrases which can lead to a criminal investigation and potentially an arrest if caught engaging in illegal online activity.

The following are some internet search terms and subjects which can result in legal trouble:

  • Child pornography – Accessing and viewing content where minor children under 17 years of age are involved in sexual activities is a sex crime. Even if you only search for child pornography—without seeing anything—could result in an arrest.

    Since everything you search is logged in your browser history or cache, your searches could be used as evidence against you if law enforcement testifies you had an intention to watch child pornography.
  • Terrorism – Although searching about terrorism isn't going to land you in hot water, looking up information on how to create homemade explosives can result in a police visit. In fact, this happened to a family in New York by accident.

    According to The Guardian, searches from different members of the household prompted the local authorities to investigate a potential terrorist threat. The woman looked up pressure cookers, her husband was browsing for backpacks, and her son was reading up about homemade bombs in articles about the Boston Marathon incident.
  • Illegal downloads – Over the past decade, more and more people have been streaming content such as movies and television shows from online platforms, as opposed to using a basic cable. However, illegally viewing or sharing content protected by copyright can lead to an arrest.

    In addition to facing jail or prison time, you may be subject to costly fines from the copyright owner and the court.
  • Hire a hitman – The dark web is considered an online criminal underworld, making it possible to view child pornography and even purchase illegal drugs. However, you can also hire an assassin to kill someone.

    Since hiring a hitman is obviously highly illegal, merely searching for one can lead to conspiracy and attempted murder charges.

Instead of having to explain to police officers why you're searching such terms, it is wise to avoid searching anything related to the subjects listed above.

If you have been arrested for a computer crime in Ventura County, our Ventura criminal defense lawyer at Wilfert Law P.C. is committed to helping you avoid a misunderstanding.

Contact us and schedule a free consultation for more information today.