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What Crimes are Digital Forensics Used in?

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With the threshold for criminal convictions being incredibly high, prosecuting authorities need to gather compelling evidence in order to bring forward a charge against a defendant.

As digital devices are now part of most people’s everyday lives, digital evidence is now increasingly common in both the prosecution and defence of criminal offences. Digital forensics therefore form a very important part of many criminal cases.

In this post, we discuss what digital forensics involves, when it is used, the types of crimes it is typically used in, and whether there are any limitations to the findings it may bring up. Read on below to find out more.

What are digital forensics?

Digital forensics involves the recovery, analysis and presentation of evidence that can be obtained from any form of digital data. Often, it will include data from devices such as computers, mobile phones, tablets, smart watches and smart TVs. Over time, digital forensics and crime have evolved substantially, becoming increasingly sophisticated.

When are digital forensics used?

Digital forensics are used in criminal cases, and for commercial purposes. In a commercial context, digital forensics are used in a variety of cases, often where a prosecution has seized devices of an alleged offender and is searching for evidence that can support their case.

For example, digital forensics could be used to find evidence of fraud, evidence of illegal content on a device, or place a device at a specific location at a certain time or date.

Given how prominent digital devices are, the use of digital forensics is now extremely common, particularly during criminal investigations.

Crimes digital forensics are used for

Digital forensics and crime are closely associated with one another. This means there are a wide range of crimes which will involve the use of a digital forensics investigation in order to reach a verdict. The types of crimes digital forensics are often used to investigate include, but certainly aren’t limited to:

  • Child sexual offences
  • Cybercrime
  • Violent crime
  • Drugs offences
  • Fraud and financial crime

Child sexual offences

An academic paper published in 2021 indicated that 80% of digital forensics work deals with the sexual abuse of children.

Child sexual offences include indecent images of children, child grooming and sexual activity and assault of a child. Given the serious nature of these types of offences, the corresponding penalties for anyone found guilty are severe. Lengthy prison sentences are likely to be handed out in the vast majority of cases.

Digital forensics can be used to comb through an alleged offender’s devices, and to find evidence that indicates an offence has taken place. In the case of indecent images of children, digital forensics can be used to determine whether an alleged offender made, possessed, or distributed indecent images, using the data from their devices.

Cybercrime offences

It should not come as a surprise to learn that digital forensics are frequently used by the police to help solve cybercrime offences, including revenge porn, hacking, cyberbullying and cyberstalking.

These types of crimes centre around the use of digital devices, with crimes often being committed without any ‘physical’ action on the part of the alleged offender. This means, for the police to gather relevant evidence, it is necessary for them to take note of what actions have been taken on various devices.

Violent crime and drugs offenses

What many people do not initially realise is that investigations into crimes that take place in a physical space, such as violent or drugs offences, can also involve the use digital forensics.

Digital forensics can be used to identify whether there was any planning involved in a crime which may contradict an alleged offender’s testimony, as well as if a device can be placed at the scene of a crime.


Financial crimes, such as serious fraud, also involve digital forensics investigations. These types of crimes can be extremely complicated and difficult to identify using more traditional methods, which is why the police rely heavily on the use of digital forensics and other AI techniques.

For example, data mining software can quickly search through millions of transactions and large amounts of data to analyse whether there are any irregular patterns that demonstrate fraud has occurred.

Can you contest findings from digital forensics?

Whether or not is possible (and in your best interests) to contest the findings from digital forensics investigations will depend on the type of evidence that is being submitted. 

Typically, digital forensics will result in facts being found which are technically correct, providing little grounds to contest them. However, contested evidence could occur where a technical expert provides a different opinion on what the technical findings of digital forensics shows, or whether the evidence is sufficient to bring forward a conviction.

For example, if a digital forensics investigation into indecent images of children uncovers certain images, it may be up to the interpretation of the law as to whether a specific image is considered to be ‘indecent’ or not.

Are there any limitations to digital forensics?

The main limitation to digital forensics is that is not always possible to place an alleged offender physically in front a device to prove that they were the ones using it when the offence took place. It is usually possible to show if an account was logged into and what activity, but that does not always prove for definite who was physically using the device.

Digital forensics is therefore used in conjunction with other supporting information, such as CCTV, eye-witness accounts and additional corroboration.

Can the defence also use digital forensics?

Yes, it is not just the prosecution that can use digital forensics to aid their case. For example, at JD Spicer Zeb, we work with leading digital forensics provider Cyfor, who can offer face to face advice on the forensic aspect of the police investigation. They can advise on the various lines of forensics the police are likely to use and what the outcome may be for interrogation of various platforms and devices.

Should I speak to a criminal defence solicitor if my devices have been seized for digital forensics?

If you have been arrested or released under investigation for a criminal offence, and your devices have been seized for a digital forensics investigation, it is absolutely imperative that you speak to a specialist criminal defence solicitor as soon as possible.

The sentencing guidelines for offences that often involve digital forensics work, such as child sexual offences, can be very harsh, even where you may have only taken as simple an action as downloading an image.

As the findings from digital forensics investigations are often extremely accurate, having the support and guidance of an expert solicitor on your side can make all the difference. This way, you will have a clear understanding of your rights and what actions could harm your defence.

Some people incorrectly assume that speaking to a criminal solicitor, or instructing them to provide representation, will signify guilt. This is not accurate. No matter what offence you are being investigated for, or the reasons for your devices being seized, enlisting expert representation at the earliest opportunity is very important.

At JD Spicer Zeb, our criminal defence solicitors have substantial experience and expertise in representing clients accused of a wide range of offences, so can be on hand to advise you on your situation. We will take every possible step to ensure that you are able to achieve the best possible outcome – whether that means avoiding charges, or reducing a sentence where conviction is unavoidable.

In addition to guiding you through the general criminal defence process, we can also provide our own digital forensics support. As mentioned above, our criminal defence team work with leading digital forensics provider Cyfor, who can offer efficient advice on the digital forensic aspect of the police investigation. This can cost from around £500 plus VAT.

Contact our criminal defence lawyers today

For a free initial consultation, urgent specialist advice, immediate representation, or to speak to us confidentially about digital forensics and crime, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You can contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:

Or email: solicitors@jdspicer.co.uk

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

24/7 legal representation for criminal offence allegations

Please get in touch for a free initial consultation with one of our expert criminal defence solicitors, as well as immediate representation and advice on dealing with digital forensics investigations.

We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Number at 07836 577 556.

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