Are IP addresses enough to convict someone of criminal activity?

So for instance, if someone was using their home WiFi network, which would have one IP address, then they use their mobile network which would have another IP address, would this be all that’s needed to convict someone of criminal activity if there was no proof that it was then that committed it?

Or are IP addresses not substantial enough?


It depends.

If the prosecution proves beyond reasonable doubt that noone else could use that IP address at that particular time then yes.

But can it prove so? Maybe yes. Maybe not. Depends on the results of forensic examination of the device, network traffic, any other corroborating evidence etc.


You need proof beyond reasonable doubt. The court will get expert witnesses to figure out who strong the evidence is.

First, someone will tell the court that if your home IP address has been used, how strong evidence it is that your computer or phone was used. And then if your computer or phone was used for a crime, it depends on the situation how much evidence it is that you used that computer or phone for the crime.

If the expert witness says there is no reasonable doubt that your computer was used for the crime. and the situation is such that there is no reasonable doubt that only you could have used the computer, then the IP address may be enough. If you share a flat with three other people, it's very unlikely enough evidence.

PS. To the comments: Yes, some hacker might be able to spoof your IP address. That’s where you’d need an expert witness who explains how much the IP address proves that your computer was used. But spoofed addresses can often be identified if one looks more closely, and it can be possible to prove that no spoofing happened in your case.

And yes, some hacker might be able to take control of your computer. That’s where someone has to find out how much your computer being used for a crime is evidence for you committing the crime. Such hacking will leave traces, and forensic examination can prove that your computer was not hacked.

  • The device could also be under control of remote hackers. – Greendrake Jul 18 '20 at 13:01
  • Could a phone be remotely hacked? – Starstruck124 Jul 18 '20 at 13:07
  • @Worldie1234 That's a question for Security.SE but by all means, yes. – Greendrake Jul 18 '20 at 13:13
  • So if it’s remotely hacked, then it would show up as that devices IP? – Starstruck124 Jul 18 '20 at 13:23
  • @Worldie1234 Yes, hackers do use hacked/zombie devices all over the world as their proxy/"VPN" service. – Greendrake Jul 18 '20 at 13:29

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