Edward Ray Barton is a very lucky man. You may recall that we reported that Barton was convicted of possession of child pornography after investigators had found child pornography files on his hard drive.
As we reported then, “files from websites you visit can be downloaded and stored on your hard drive without you even realizing it. Often, for example, they often end up in a Temporary Internet Files folder. Now, imagine that you accidentally ended up at a pornography site which caters to people who like younger “models”. And even though you left even more quickly than you got there, those graphics files ended up in your hard drive, in that Temporary Internet Files folder. Now, it may or may not have been by accident, and we may never know, but that is exactly what happened to Edward Ray Barton.”
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As a result, Barton was convicted of possession of child pornography, even though the State’s own case was clear that the files had existed only in his temporary files (i.e. his cache).
As a result, Barton was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
This month, however, a Georgia appeals court overturned Barton’s conviction. The bottom line, according to the Court, was that in order to be guilty of “possession” of child pornography, you have to ..you know.. actually know that you have it (and intend to have it).
Said the Court, “There was no way that Barton could have learned of the cache files in the normal course of using his computer. Nor did the state present any circumstantial evidence that would have allowed the jury to infer Barton’s knowledge of these files, i.e. they did not show that Barton was an experienced or sophisticated computer user who would have been aware of this automatic storage process.”
Now, this was a state appeals court, so this decision does not set any binding precedents. However, it will certainly be used to inform other, similar cases.
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