Computer Crimes Charges: Why You Need a Cyber Crimes Attorney
The internet has become an integral part of our daily lives. We rely on it for communication, business, banking, entertainment, and more. But with this increased connectivity comes increased risk of cybercrimes. Cybercrimes are offenses committed online or using a computer, network, or hardware device. They include hacking, identity theft, fraud, child pornography, and more.
If you are being investigated or charged with a cybercrime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Cybercrime laws are complex, and the penalties are severe. An attorney experienced in cyber law can help protect your rights and build the strongest defense for your unique situation.
Common Federal Cybercrime Charges
There are a number of federal laws that address cybercrimes, but the main one is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) . This law covers offenses like:
- Hacking – Illegally accessing a computer system without authorization
- Identity theft – Using someone else’s identity to commit fraud
- Fraud – Schemes to obtain money or something else of value through false pretenses
- Harassment/Stalking – Using electronic means to harass, threaten, or stalk someone
- Child pornography – Possession, distribution, or production of sexually explicit images of minors
Other federal laws used to prosecute cybercrimes include:
- The Wiretap Act – Prohibits intercepting electronic communications
- Stored Communications Act – Prohibits unauthorized access to stored communications like emails
- Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act – Specifically prohibits identity theft
- The CAN-SPAM Act – Criminalizes sending spam emails under certain conditions
Penalties for Federal Cybercrime Convictions
The penalties for federal cybercrime convictions vary widely depending on the specific offense and circumstances of the case. But in general, just one conviction can result in:
- Years or even decades in federal prison
- Massive fines up to $250,000 per offense
- Forfeiture of assets and property
- Supervised release after prison
- Permanent criminal record
- Loss of certain rights and privileges
For example, a conviction under the CFAA for hacking into a government computer can result in up to 10 years in prison. Child pornography convictions can lead to minimum 15 year sentences per image.
The penalties quickly stack up for multiple counts. It’s important to fight federal cybercrime charges aggressively to avoid devastating consequences.
Why You Need an Experienced Federal Cyber Crimes Attorney
Facing federal prosecution is daunting. The federal government has vast resources and cybercrime prosecutors are aggressive. The deck is stacked against you from the start.
A skilled federal criminal defense attorney levels the playing field. They have the experience and resources to take on the prosecution and give you a fighting chance. Here are some key reasons you need a lawyer for federal cybercrime charges:
Complex Laws and Procedures
Cybercrime laws are complex. An experienced attorney understands how they are applied and prosecuted. They know the procedures and processes in federal court and how to navigate them effectively to build the strongest case for you.
Federal prosecutors have immense resources at their disposal, including expert witnesses and technical specialists. An attorney has the skills and resources to counter the prosecution’s evidence and witnesses.
Sentencing and Plea Guidance
The stakes are high in federal cybercrime cases. An attorney guides you on potential sentences and plea deals. Their negotiation skills could significantly reduce charges and penalties.
If your case goes to trial, you want an attorney experienced in trying federal cases. They have the skills for things like jury selection, admitting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and delivering opening and closing arguments.
When you’re facing prosecution, it’s hard to make level-headed decisions. An attorney objectively assesses your case and provides reasoned guidance at every stage.
Protection of Rights
During the investigation process, the government may violate your rights. An attorney ensures your rights are protected against things like illegal searches, self-incrimination, improper interrogations, and more.
Building a Strong Defense for Federal Cybercrime Charges
The key to any federal cybercrime case is building a strong defense by exploiting weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments. A skilled attorney will thoroughly analyze the charges and evidence against you. They will look for legal and factual holes in the government’s case. Some potential defenses include:
- You didn’t commit the crime – Misidentification is common in cybercrime cases since tracking digital evidence can be complicated. An attorney may argue the prosecution has the wrong person.
- Illegal police conduct – If evidence was obtained illegally through things like improper searches or interrogations, an attorney can get that evidence suppressed. This could gut the prosecution’s case.
- Unauthorized access wasn’t intentional – For hacking and unauthorized access charges, prosecutors must prove you intentionally accessed systems without authorization. This intent can often be called into question.
- You were entrapped – Law enforcement sometimes crosses the line and induces cybercrimes. A skilled attorney can argue you were illegally entrapped.
- False accusations – People sometimes make false cybercrime accusations for various reasons. An attorney can expose lies through thorough investigation.
- Constitutional violations – If the government violated your constitutional rights, like free speech or due process, an attorney can challenge the case’s legality.
- Mental competency – In some cases, mental disabilities can be used to challenge your ability to intentionally commit cybercrimes.
A combination of strong defense strategies can derail the prosecution’s case against you.
The Value of Early Intervention in Cybercrime Cases
The earlier you engage an attorney in a federal cybercrime investigation or prosecution, the better. In early stages, a lawyer can employ proactive strategies to limit charges and penalties down the road.
An attorney can immediately intervene to protect your rights during searches and interrogations. In investigations, they can present arguments to prosecutors to prevent or limit charges.
Through relationships with prosecutors, an attorney can often negotiate plea deals or non-prosecution agreements before charges are even filed. The leverage on your side is much greater the earlier you have representation.
Don’t wait until you are indicted or arrested. Engage counsel at the first sign of a federal cybercrime investigation.
Finding the Right Federal Cyber Crime Defense Attorney
All attorneys are not equal when it comes to federal cybercrime defense. You want a lawyer with specific experience in federal cases and cybercrime statutes. Be sure to ask:
- Do they have experience defending federal cybercrime cases? Ask for specific examples.
- Are they familiar with the CFAA, Wiretap Act, and other relevant laws?
- Do they have experience arguing constitutional issues in federal court?
- What is their trial record in federal court?
- Do they have technical experts available to counter the prosecution’s experts?
- Will they be the lead attorney handling your case?
- How quickly do they return calls, emails, and messages?
Vet any attorney thoroughly. Your freedom is on the line.
What to Do If You Are Under Investigation
If you learn you are under federal investigation for a cybercrime, here are important steps to take:
- Remain silent – Do not talk to investigators without an attorney. What you say can only be used against you.
- Hire an attorney – Retain skilled legal counsel immediately to protect your rights.
- Follow attorney guidance – Your attorney will guide you on interacting with investigators, responding to warrants, and more.
- Gather relevant records – Work with your attorney to gather evidence and records relevant to your defense.
- Avoid actions that appear obstructive – Be cooperative with lawful requests to avoid charges for obstructing justice.
- Be cautious of witnesses – Advise friends and family that speaking to investigators could harm your case.
- Continue normal activities – Don’t act like you are hiding something unless your attorney advises otherwise.
The Bottom Line
Facing federal cybercrime charges is frightening. But an experienced attorney levels the playing field and gives you the best chance at a positive outcome. Do not wait to engage counsel if you are being investigated or charged. Schedule a free case evaluation with a federal cybercrime lawyer as soon as possible. They have the skills and knowledge to protect your rights and future.