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Can Internet Search History Be Used Against You?

Can Internet Search History Be Used Against You?

No one welcomes the idea of someone else digging thorough their internet search history. The idea of court prosecutors using or publicizing your search history is equally as chilling. However, your internet search history may be used against you if you have been charged with an internet crime or another criminal offense.

Can Google Searches Be Used in Court?

According to California Penal Code § 1546.1, government entities (i.e. state departments or agencies) can access electronic communications information from a service provider or compel a person or entity to provide access to the information (via a warrant or wiretap order). Electronic communication information, by definition, includes:

  • Contents
  • Sender
  • Recipients
  • Location information of the sender and recipients during the communication
  • Time and date information, specifically when communication was created, sent, or received
  • Information about any individual device participating in the communication, such as an IP address

Can Your Internet History Be Subpoenaed?

If deemed relevant to the case, prosecutors may subpoena your internet history and/or computer. While you may think that deleting your browser history or searching in incognito mode may help, internet providers and Google still have a log of those searches.

Searching information isn’t a crime itself. However, searches can raise red flags and certain sites and internet activity are criminal (e.g., possession of child pornography).

When Might Your Search History Be Relevant?

Access to your search history may be granted in fraud, hacking, electronic harassment, blackmail and various internet crimes. Your search history could also be deemed relevant in several criminal cases.

For instance, if you click on a link monitored by law enforcement (like sites with child pornography, those related to terrorism, or with illegal downloads), a search warrant may be issued to search your home computer. In other cases, your search history or computer information may be used to establish intent, motive, or communication with co-conspirators.

Why Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, a skilled attorney will know how to best fight against the admission of your browser search history. Even if your search history is admitted, they will know how to frame the evidence (e.g., taken out of context or circumstantial).

With over a decade of experience, the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed offers expert legal advice and representation. If you need a trusted attorney, contact our office at (510) 907-6600 or connect with us online.