Criminal Offenses in Cyberspace
It’s a whole new world, one where big brother can be watching at any time, one where you can find yourself facing criminal charges for something you posted or did on a desktop computer or even on a mobile device. Let’s look at what we mean by “cybercrime,” and identify the common types of activity that can get you in trouble with the law.
What Is a Cybercrime?
As a general rule, a cybercrime is any prohibited act that involves the use of a computer or a digital device, in conjunction with either a computer network (the internet) or a mobile network. It’s important to remember, though, that crimes are customarily established by and set forth in statutes, written laws enacted by a legislative body, such as the U.S. Congress or your state’s legislature. If you are arrested and charged with a cybercrime, the activity you were engaged in must be identified as illegal in a state, local or federal statute.
What Are the Most Common Types of Cybercrimes?
There are two general types of cybercrimes—those where a computer or digital device is used as a tool to engage in illegal acts, and those where a computer or digital device is the target of some separate illegal activity. Some cybercrimes have an element of both.
Cybercrimes Where a Computer or Digital Device is the Target of Illegal Activity
There are many state laws that make phishing a crime. These statutes typically define phishing as copying bona fide websites or brands in an attempt to lure users and gather information from them. That information may later be sold to other marketers or it may be used to engage in identity theft or to wrongfully access online accounts.
Cybercrimes Where a Computer or Digital Device Is Used to Engage in Illegal Activity
Perhaps the most common criminal violation involving a digital device is online or internet fraud, where someone makes an intentional misstatement or misrepresentation to lure someone into purchasing bogus goods or services.
Virtually every state has laws on the books making it a crime to use the internet or a digital device to wrongfully solicit sex from a minor or engage in other illegal activities involving sex, including the gathering, sale, storage or dissemination of child pornography.
Online harassment and cyberstalking are two additional examples of when a person’s use of the internet or a digital device/network can result in criminal prosecution. The line between permissible communication with or about a person on social media platforms or other internet sites can be unclear at times, though many states have enacted laws that make it illegal to use the internet or digital means to engage in acts that would otherwise violate state stalking laws. Some states require language that constitutes intimidation or threats, and many also criminalize false accusations and defamation online (known as digital vandalism).
Digital platforms are also an easy and common way to engage in intellectual property infringement, as many internet users may post copyrighted information without permission or wrongfully infringe on trademarks. Those criminal violations are generally enforced under federal laws.
Contact the Proven Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we understand the impact a criminal prosecution can have on every aspect of your life. We offer a free initial consultation to every client. To speak with an aggressive criminal defense lawyer, with the skill and knowledge to defend you against cybercrime charges, contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.