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Johnson Citronberg defends your freedom

Our Firm Wins Suppression Motion in Major FBI Sex Crimes Case

| Jess Johnson |

Fairfax, Virginia — Our firm recently won a major suppression motion in one of the last remaining child pornography cases involving the infamous FBI investigation called Playpen. During the investigation, federal agents obtained statements from our client without first advising him of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona. After a full evidentiary hearing, the Fairfax County Circuit Court agreed with us that the statements were unlawfully obtained and suppressed the statements.

Our internet sex crimes lawyers have handled child pornography cases across the country in federal court as well as in state courts in Virginia and Georgia. This recent victory in Fairfax County is one of many victories that our sex crimes lawyers have achieved through experience and hard work.

Playpen was a massive FBI operation in 2014 in which the FBI gained control of a website on the dark web. It then employed malware (known as the NIT) which infected the computers of visitors to the website. The malware transmitted data about the users’ computers to the FBI. The FBI then executed numerous search warrants at residencies across the country. During these searches, the FBI seized countless electronic devices and subjected the residents of the homes to interrogation.

When the details of the FBI’s investigation became public, there was intense blowback. Many federal courts determined that the FBI had deployed the NIT in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Despite the Constitutional violation, most courts did not exclude the evidence obtained by the FBI due to the good-faith exception (which greatly limits a federal court’s authority to suppress evidence unlawfully obtained pursuant to a search warrant). The FBI’s investigation was also shrouded in mystery. After bringing charges against numerous individuals, the FBI refused to disclose the source code for the NIT. This prompted many to question the integrity of the NIT as well as the validity of the data that the NIT sent to the FBI about the users’ computers.

In the most recent case, the Department of Justice declined to prosecute our client. Virginia, however, picked up the case and decided to indict our client. After reviewing the evidence provided by the Commonwealth, our lawyers determined that the FBI had unlawfully questioned our client. The discovery showed that roughly 20 federal agents stormed our client’s home before moving him into a police van to be questioned. After thorough briefing and a full evidentiary hearing, the judge agreed that our client’s statements were illegally obtained.

In our experience, many sex crimes lawyers assume their client is guilty, and as a result, they fail to adequately investigate the case, and they fail to file critical motions challenging the government’s evidence. This often causes the client to enter an unfavorable guilty plea involving prison and sex offender registration. By fighting the government’s case, however, a good criminal defense lawyer can chip away at the government’s evidence. This can force the government to dismiss its case altogether or put the client in a much better position to win a jury trial or negotiate a favorable deal.

Our internet sex crimes lawyers are dedicated to the zealous representation of our clients in federal courts across the country as well as in Virginia and Georgia state courts. If you or someone you know has been charged with a sex crime, give our law firm call to see if we can help.