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Did FBI agents break the law in pursuit of child porn suspects?

Many readers of our Fort Myers criminal law blog understand that enforcing the law requires authorities to perform a balancing act. Officials are sworn to uphold the law and do what they can to stop violations, but they must at all times reassure citizens that they are themselves not breaking the law in pursuit of law-breakers.

Some Federal Bureau of Investigation agents appear to have forgotten that they cannot violate constitutional protections in pursuit of alleged criminals. Federal judges across the nation have ruled in various cases that the FBI's tactics in a child pornography investigation were inappropriate and violated the rights of suspects. 

A senior U.S. District judge ruled last week that the FBI ignored by federal procedure rules and the U.S. Constitution in carrying out its investigation named "Operation Pacifier." In the sting operation, federal agents installed a hacking tool and malware to infect the computers of suspects and obtain the IP addresses of suspects' computers. Later, more than 180 people were arrested on charges involving distribution and possession of child pornography.

Judges have found that the FBI used search warrants against suspects that were issued in one particular jurisdiction rather than in the individual jurisdictions where the suspects were arrested. A federal prosecutor argues that the law simply has not caught up to investigative techniques such as the use of the malware in this case.

No one yet knows if these cases will eventually be thrown out because of government misconduct.

But we know that in some situations, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and others will exceed their authority and bend and break the law as they chase after those suspected of criminal activity.

An experienced, skilled Fort Myers criminal defense attorney can protect your rights and fight for your freedom. 

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