Can a Warrant Be Issued to Search the Defendant’s Apartment and Seize His Computer and Documents In a Case of Child Pronography ?

In United States v. Hay, 231 F.3d 630 (9th Cir. 2000), the trial court denied the defendant's motion to suppress evidence seized from his home.

The defendant appealed the denial and argued that the "search of his entire computer system based on a seven-minute, six month old transmission of 19 images of child pornography was unreasonable." Hay, 231 F.3d at 632.

The facts of the investigation that led to the issuance of the warrant to search the defendant's home were as follows: An arrest of a known trafficker in child pornography and a search of his computer system revealed that he had transmitted 19 child pornography images from his computer to a computer that was affiliated with a university, but was assigned to and associated with a network port wired to the defendant's apartment. Hay, 231 F.3d at 632.

A telephone call placed to the defendant by an undercover agent revealed that the defendant did own a computer which he kept in his apartment and that the computer was affiliated with the university but that he was the only user of this computer. Hay, 231 F.3d at 633.

In an affidavit in support of a search warrant, the investigating agent averred that the images transmitted from the known child pornography trafficker to defendant's computer were likely to be found in the defendant's computer based on information that collectors and traders of child pornography retain those images. Hay, 231 F.3d at 633.

A warrant was issued by a United States magistrate to search the defendant's apartment and to seize his computer hardware, software, documents, material and record as well as any images of child pornography. Hay, 231 F.3d at 633.

The defendant's computer, software, and disks were seized as well as video tapes. Hay, 231 F.3d at 633.