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In this hypothetical, let’s say there are four people living in a family home, and all people share the same IP, but not computers.

Person A has engaged in a one-time illegal online activity that has led to the possession/distribution of illegal pornographic content to a undercover cop, unbeknownst to the other dwellers. Person A later physically destroys the hard drive and, subsequently, the computer (does not make a copy of anything) , and throws it in a nearby dumpster that is later serviced. They buy a new computer from a friend. There is now nothing in the home that is “illegal”.

Person B pays for the internet service and is the registered individual listed for the IP that was used for the illegal activity.

A search warrant is issued on the home based on the IP address used, logs, and email sent by Person A (used a throwaway account with no identifying information). Nothing is found in the home.

With four people in the home, how likely is someone to be convicted, and who?

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  • A gives child porn (printout or computer file) to the police then destroys the computer. Doesn't seem that the computer file is all that relevant. Or do you mean that the officer saw but did not get a copy of the content?
    – user6726
    Jul 11, 2022 at 0:20

1 Answer 1

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It is possible that someone is convicted. Destruction of evidence an constitute circumstantial evidence that a crime was committed, and other evidence, such as testimony, could pin the crime to one of the four possible suspects. A jury has broad discretion to assess the weight of the evidence.

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