The Law Enforcement Challenges

Information Technology in Criminal Justice[Date]

In this age of social media old offenders are committing crimes in new ways and digital crimes have become an extension of the physical counterparts, someone who commits a crime of check fraud now has the ability to access the account electronically and move the funds without being anywhere near a bank. Many challenges exist for law enforcement agencies when investigating and prosecuting crimes of internet exploitation, obscenity, and cyberstalking such as how does law enforcement collect evidence without destroying what is discovered and following the same legal standards as the physical crimes only with different tools and arenas where the crimes happen. Depending on the jurisdiction and the funding there are tools available nowadays to investigate and prosecute digital crimes, computer forensics has come a long way with the development of tools which allow the collection and examination of digital evidence by investigators without tampering with the evidence and avoiding accidentally changing what was collected due to mishandling.


Overlapping jurisdictions however, are one of the many challenges that face law enforcement agencies during investigations into digital crimes such as exploitation, cyber stalking and obscenity. Jurisdiction determines which agency has the authority to prosecute and administer justice, due to the unlimited methods to hide one’s identity criminals can now operate under a cloak of secrecy and often times outside of the United States. Each state has its own set of laws just as each nation has its own set of laws. As we all understand law enforcement agencies are only authorized to enforce the law within its own jurisdiction and what is illegal in

one state or nation may not be illegal in another. The fight against cybercrimes is further hindered by the evidence which is needed to prosecute such a crime. This evidence being data which is fragile in and of itself and can be easily lost or changed. Evidentiary data in cybercrimes is in actuality a collection of ones and zeros, a digital type of footprint which marks a user’s path, this footprint is a user’s IP address. Collection of this fragile data is made more difficult with the many methods that the criminal can hide the IP address by routing traffic through a host of servers. Forensic scientist working with network experts have the ability to maintain reliable data to be presented before a judge and if necessary to recover any deleted data. Once criminal activity has been identified and categorized as either federal or local, the proper law enforcement agency will handle it accordingly, physicality may be an issue with regards to jurisdiction. Recent laws passed by the federal government regarding certain illegal offenses has forced the cooperation between local law enforcement agencies, and both federal and foreign government agencies to fight cybercrimes. Due to the overlapping jurisdictions cases are often handed off to other agencies where evidence could be tampered with or worst yet the deleted making the evidence inadmissible in any court proceeding.

Is it possible to correct these jurisdictional issues? Possibly as agents begin to work together to share coverage of cybercrimes, cooperation of this nature will allow for more fluid sharing of knowledge and ease of prosecution when all sides are working together. As more global agencies are purposed to work with other countries in the pursuit of prosecution of these cyber criminals having established laws or agreements in place will offer faster resolutions to cybercrimes that cross jurisdiction. Establishing task forces which incorporate multiple law

enforcement agencies presents the ability to work with different agencies and have geographical jurisdiction which covers all entities the task force represents.

Working across several agencies also establishes a method for collection of digital evidence which would be valid in other states or countries.


It serves the people to have law enforcement agencies whose officers can work with officers from different states or countries, guaranteeing that process is maintained from beginning to end in the prosecution of those who commit cybercrimes. Working together would offer endless resources and tools to fulfil the mission. As new technology comes to bear, so to must our methods to pursue, capture and prosecute cyber criminals.

Carter, D. L., & Katz, A. J. (2000). Computer Crime: A Forecast of Emerging Trends. Unpublished Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, New Orleans, LA.

Wills, John. (April 2017). Law Enforcement Technology.  Vol. 44 Issue 4, p8-11. 3p. 1 Color Photograph., Database: Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text

Taylor, R. W., Fritsch, E. J., & Liederbach, J. (2015). Digital Crime and Digital Terrorism. Third Edition. Pearson, Inc.

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