A wealthy Dallas woman was recently arrested and charged in federal court with possession and dissemination of child pornography. 41-year-old Erika Susan Perdue was accused of accessing child pornography from a computer in her $1.4 million University Park home following a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raid on the premises. Perdue reportedly admitted to collecting and trading child pornography using file sharing software for more than 12 years. She also stated she engaged in the behavior while her husband, a prominent Dallas intellectual property lawyer, was at work.
According to an FBI affidavit, agents began monitoring Perdue earlier this year after they tracked at least 21 files containing child pornography to the IP address associated with her home. Although Perdue is not accused of creating the sexually explicit images, the wealthy socialite was formally charged with possessing, transporting, shipping, and receiving child pornography. If convicted, Perdue faces up to 20 years in prison on three of the counts and ten years in prison on the fourth. She has reportedly been undergoing treatment at a Texas mental health facility since her arrest. Perdue’s husband of nearly three years was not named as a suspect in the initial criminal complaint.
Perdue was charged with a federal cyber crime. Throughout the years, crimes like hacking, identity theft, and internet child exploitation have increasingly been investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities. In fact, the FBI and other federal agencies created a Joint Task Force designed to predict and fight cyber threats in 2008. Too often, however, federal investigators take monitoring potential computer crimes too far. Because of this, an individual’s right to privacy is often undermined.
In most cases, federal investigators cannot force an individual to turn over computer files without a search warrant. Still, the United States Department of Justice has successfully required internet service providers to maintain and turn over the web browsing history of specific individuals. Even if you are innocent of a crime, the Justice Department has the ability to monitor your internet activity and charge you with a federal crime. Although the information provided by your internet service provider may demonstrate that a crime was committed with your computer or using your IP address, it cannot tell federal investigators exactly who was using the service or computer at the time the alleged crime was committed.
Oftentimes, federal agencies violate an individual’s right to be free from illegal search and seizure in their zeal to convict. Other constitutional rights and privacy guarantees may also be violated by federal investigators. If you were charged with a federal computer crime in Texas, contact an experienced cyber crimes defense lawyer to defend you and protect your rights.
Anyone accused of committing a cyber crime in Texas needs an aggressive Midland criminal defense attorney on their side. If you were charged in a federal criminal case, you owe it to yourself to contact a skilled Texas lawyer today.
Texas Man Receives 70 Months in Federal Prison After Being Caught with More than 2,000 Kilograms of Marijuana, Texas Criminal Lawyer Blog, June 25, 2012
Houston Grandmother Given a Life Sentence For Allegedly Conspiring to Smuggle Drugs, Texas Criminal Lawyer Blog, May 14, 2012
Erika Susan Perdue, Texas Socialite, Faces Child Porn Charges, by Danny Robinson, Huffington Post