People like to say that you can find anything you want on the internet, and that is frighteningly close to the truth. People will even upload and share things that violate both state and federal law, potentially putting other people who view or download those images or videos is at risk of legal repercussions.

If you get caught with certain kinds of images or videos on your computer, even if they are illustrations, drawings or cartoons that don’t involve real people, you could find yourself facing federal criminal charges.

Specifically, any content that the government might classify as obscene, such as child pornography accessed or obtained through the internet, will likely result in federal law enforcement efforts.

Simply deleting files won’t undo the damage

It is sad to realize that many people could wind up accused of a very serious charge that could leave them obligated to register as a sex offender for the foreseeable future simply because they clicked the wrong download link, but such an occurrence could certainly happen.

If you accidentally found yourself a viewing or having downloaded an image or video that made you uncomfortable or seemed to depict children engaged in inappropriate actions, your first reaction may have been to simply delete the file and pretend it never happened.

However, federal law enforcement officers can track files from their point of origin and have the forensic ability to locate deleted content on your computer’s hard drive. A simple mistake from weeks or months ago could eventually give rise to a search warrant and federal agencies seizing your computer, potentially resulting in significant criminal charges.