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Toronto Child Pornography Lawyer

Child Pornography charges resulting from the use of peer to peer (P2P) file sharing programs and networks.

How police catch and charge people who download and share child porn files using peer to peer applications.

In Toronto (and throughout Canada) the primary way people get caught and charged with child porn is through local police monitoring of peer to peer (P2P) networks such as Gnutella, eDonkey, Fasttrack, and Bittorrent.

Many accused access (and sometimes share) child porn after discovering it using free widely available file sharing software such as LimeWire, FrostWire, eMule, Shareaza, Ares, and other programs designed to search and share files on peer to peer networks and trackers. Sometimes the accused will accidentally discover these files while searching for adult porn and download them largely out of curiosity.

While it is extremely easy to find child porn using these networks, it is also extremely easy for the police to find and catch those who do.

Pre-arrest surveillance: child porn images and videos are downloaded and automatically shared (with or without knowledge of the accused)

Most file sharing programs are set to automatically share files downloaded by default. The police, knowing P2P networks are a limitless source for arrests, will download the common file sharing programs and search to see who is actively sharing/uploading suspected child porn. They'll search for file names and descriptions that resemble child porn using keywords like "lolita, boy, girl, preteen, kiddie, illegal, child, cp, kids, underage, young, etc.". A simple search of P2P networks will result in the finding of tens of thousands of child porn files (both images and videos).

After the initial keyword search, the police examine the IP addresses of those sharing the child porn to determine who is local (in their jurisdiction). For example, in the GTA area, police will look for child porn files being shared by IPs belonging to Rogers, Bell, Pathcom, Techlink, and other local internet providers. They will then download the material from the local user. If the picture or videos are found to meet what they believe to be the legal definition of child porn, the police will then attempt to determine the identity of the individual sharing the files and charge them with offences such as: possession of child porn, accessing child porn, and distributing child porn.

Identifying the user(s) of the computer sharing child porn with P2P networks

At this point in their investigation, the police have three main pieces of information:
  1. the alleged child pornography files being shared;
  2. the local IP address sharing the files; and,
  3. the time (or timestamp) that the particular IP shared the files.
The police will then contact the user's internet service provider (ISP) to obtain the name/contact information of the customer who was using the infringing IP at the  day/time they downloaded the child porn. Sometimes the ISP will consent to provide this information voluntarily. If not, the police may have to apply for a court order forcing the ISP to release the customer's information. In 2012, many Canadian ISPs are willing to provide this information without a court order.

The name of the internet customer does not identify exactly who is responsible for the child porn

Once the customer's information is obtained, the police must (or at least should) try to determine all potential users of the internet connection. Just because a customer's account is sharing child porn doesn't necessarily mean the customer identified is responsible.

While a single man with no houseguests and a password protected wireless router may seem to be the obvious sole user of an internet connection, often an internet account is shared among houseguests, visitors, family members, and roommates. In the Toronto area houses often contain basement apartments with multiple tenants or families sharing a single internet account (along with all their guests).

Internet account access may also be unknowingly shared across an open wireless router, or through a computer compromised with malware, trojans, backdoor programs, viruses, or other malicious applications. These alternatives plausible explanations can often provide reasonable doubt in child porn cases if the accused hires a lawyer capable of successfully mounting such defences.

How do the police know who is responsible for using the computer or internet connection suspected of child porn?

They don't know, however good police work often involves surveillance of the house and researching the background information of who they believe to live there.

Sometimes the police will call the suspect's residence pretending to be an employee of their internet service provider to try to obtain incriminating statements and information about who is using the computers and internet connection in the household. During this stage of the investigation, the police will also continue to monitor the IP address of the suspect on the P2P network and note the date/time of any new child porn files that are shared (and thus allegedly actively downloaded). This information may later be used as evidence when compared to obtained statements (if given) about who is in the house or using the computers at the times these files become accessible.

Once the police are satisfied they have taken all steps to identify the likely user responsible for downloading and sharing the child porn (and dates/times of which their use was active), they will apply for a warrant and search the property to seize all computers, hard drives, CDs/DVDs, and other material that could be used to support their case.

The search often starts with a knock on the door and comes as a complete surprise to the accused. Given this immediate shock, many will make incriminating admissions or confessions to the police at the time of the search without realizing the seriousness of the possible consequences or all the potential defences often available in these cases.

Even if you or a loved one made an incriminating statement to the police, such statements can often be thrown out (excluded) or alternatively explained in court if the defendant is properly represented by an experienced child porn defence lawyer.

Thousands of people use P2P networks to access and download child porn without understanding the seriousness of the potential consequences.

The amount of people caught and charged by police for child porn on peer to peer networks is not a reflection of how many people (in Ontario and throughout Canada/internationally) are actually doing it, but of the limited police resources available to catch them. In Ontario alone, thousands of people use P2P programs to download, upload, and access child pornography.

Since these types of investigations are somewhat complex, the police simply cannot charge everybody (in fact only a small fraction). In 2012, the Conservative Government tried to pass legislation making it easier for police to obtain account information from ISPs but backed down after substantial media outcry and public opposition.

Widespread availability/ease of access combined with curiosity and a lack of appreciation for potential tremendous consequences is a major part of the child porn problem in Canada.

The ease of which child porn is available on P2P networks leads people, often out of sheer curiosity and impulse, to view and download it. Most charged are men with normal lives and sexual interests, often aged 18 – 24, who out of curiosity, impulse, and a lack of appreciation of the danger involved, double click and download a file with a name like “16yololitatopless.jpg” and instantly commit an extremely serious criminal offence.

Some of these people who download child porn don't realize that the file is being stored on their computer and automatically shared/uploaded to others. This file sharing not only leads to their arrest, it also increases the mandatory minimum indictable jail term to one year from six months for simple possession (Crowns Attorneys normally elect to proceed by indictment for all child porn charges in Ontario though distribution is a straight indictable offence). Once charged, the accused is labelled by society as a dangerous sex offender and “child predator” for life and if convicted will face possible lifelong restrictions to their computer use, travel, and ability to visit beaches, pools, etc. (in addition to guaranteed jail time).

Strict punishments are said to provide a deterrent effect and compensate for the fact that only about 2% of Ontarians who use P2P networks to download/share child porn are ever charged (because of a lack of police resources).

Call us today for a free case review

You need lawyers who understand technology and have experience defending child pornography related charges. Child porn sentences (including for all guilty pleas) result in mandatory lengthy jail terms, sex offender registrations, and other employment, travel, and immigration related consequences that can ruin your life.

Winning acquittals and withdrawn charges often requires more than traditional defence methods. It may be possible to avoid a conviction by raising doubt in your case using highly sophisticated technological and constitutional defence strategies.

    call us: 647-228-5969


  call us: 647-228-5969


Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • 2024 constitutional and technological child porn defences successfully used throughout Canada and the U.S.
  • Flat fee pricing
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance with US travel, immigration, employment background checks, and avoiding a criminal record. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed.

We only can take calls/emails relating to Ontario, Canada area cases. Please see our FAQ for a listing of the courthouses we service.

Are you a lawyer? If you are defending a child pornography related case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.


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  More Information:

  We provide:
  • 2024 constitutional and technological child porn defences successfully used throughout Canada and the U.S.
  • Flat fee pricing
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel