The conviction of some types of cybercrimes comes with both a substantial fine and a long prison sentence. Internet crime is a relatively new area of the law that covers a wide range of charges, and new case law and precedents produce significant changes to what constitutes defense strategies. Because of these factors, it is important to hire a criminal defense lawyer with detailed experience in these cases. Even if you believe that the prosecutor’s case against you is too strong to defend against, your attorney may use a number of proven strategies to help you achieve the most favorable outcome that the law allows.
What Are Cybercrimes?
Cybercrimes are all crimes that use computer networks, the internet or computers for illegal purposes. Many states have adopted a range of laws regarding internet crimes, but many of the most serious charges are prosecuted at the federal level. In many instances, cybercrime may fall under another niche area of the law, such as white-collar crimes. For example, crimes that are both white-collar crimes and cyber crimes may include money laundering, unlawfully altering computer data, skimming, investment fraud and more. Examples of other types of cybercrimes are trafficking in passwords, identity theft, internet child pornography, internet extortion, stalking or bullying, credit card fraud, solicitation of a minor, phishing and more.
The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, maintains legal jurisdiction over the internet. This is the entity that most commonly investigates large-scale internet crimes. It may work with other law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI. While some cases are investigated at the state level, even the less significant crimes that involve the distribution of data across state lines is considered to be a federal crime regardless of how seemingly minor it may be.
Penalties for Cybercrimes
Because of the wide range of crimes that are classified as cybercrimes, the penalties vary significantly based on the actual charges and the nuances of the case. Some convictions could result in a six-digit fine and up to life in prison. In many cases, the number of victims involved, the dollar amount of loss to the victims and the defendant’s prior criminal history will come into question during the sentencing phase of the case.
Computer-related fraud is an independent charge. It may be punished by up to 20 years in prison. This charge often coincides with other charges, such as solicitation of a minor, wire fraud, extortion and more. Because of this, defendants in a cybercrime case may need to defend themselves against multiple charges. Be aware that there are other consequences of having charges brought against you even if your case never sees the courtroom. For example, your reputation may be tarnished, and this could result in the inability to continue working in your field, the loss of income and many other effects.
Defense Strategies for Cybercrimes
Authorities who investigate and bring charges for internet crimes often spend ample time working in the background to build a strong case. Because of their detailed and exhaustive efforts, successfully defending against such charges is a complicated, challenging task. Nonetheless, a skilled attorney may be able to use a variety of strategies to defend you against the charges you face today. For example, the defense attorney may claim that you are the victim of entrapment or mistaken identity. Other defenses include a wrongful accusation, illegal search and seizure and lack of knowledge or intent. Because internet crimes generally involve other types of charges as well, defense strategies that specifically poke holes in those aspects of the case may be effective against the cybercrimes charges as well.
Schedule an Initial Legal Consultation Today
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer with expertise in cybercrimes is crucial because of the nuances of this rapidly changing area of the law. In addition, your attorney should have deep knowledge of other aspects of the law that relate to your case, such as white-collar crimes, sex crimes or others. You may not be aware of a criminal investigation until charges have been brought against you. However, even if charges have not yet been filed, you should consult with an attorney as soon as you are aware of this developing legal matter. For a legal consultation, email or call our law firm today.
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