College Student Avoids Identity Theft Cybercrime Conviction
With the help of her parents, a sophomore college student at a Philadelphia area private college retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after local authorities charged her with felony identity theft using a computer, classified as a state cybercrime. The charges alleged that our client had used a dormitory roommate's identity and credit card to purchase clothing, food, and textbooks having a value greater than $2,000. If the allegedly fraudulent purchases had been under $2,000, then the crime would have been a misdemeanor rather than a felony, and the student would more likely have qualified for pre-trial diversion. Our investigation suggested that although our client may have ordered more than $2,000 in items, she did not receive delivery of items exceeding that amount, and the sellers had credited the account enough to bring the total below $2,000. We presented this information to the prosecutor, with whom our lead defense attorney had a long-standing and trusting professional relationship. The prosecutor agreed to reduce the charge. After further development of the case, including more information on our client's general good character and strong academic record, the prosecutor further agreed to support our client's request for pre-trial diversion. The judge approved the request, accepting our client's plea while holding the charge until our client completed the diversion program's conditions. We then helped our client confirm her satisfaction with all program conditions so that the court would dismiss the charge. Our client retained her clean criminal record, which is necessary to support her educational and career aspirations.
Cosmetologist Defends Cyber-Stalking Charges at Trial
A cosmetologist retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after her arrest on cyber-stalking charges. The charges arose out of a relationship our client had pursued with a customer. The cosmetologist and customer had gotten along so well that our client decided to keep up communications with him online between cosmetology visits. The customer had initially welcomed and responded positively to the texts, emails, and messages. But in time, the customer had failed or refused to respond and eventually discouraged our client from continuing with the communications. Our client admitted that she had “a thing” for the customer and further admitted that she had grown frustrated and confused by his withdrawal from their online relationship, to the point of sending some inappropriately emotional messages. Our client didn't feel that she had stalked, threatened, or offended the customer. Our private investigator learned that the customer hadn't known what to do with our client's increasingly embarrassing online communications, which threatened to disrupt the customer's other relationships. The customer regretted having gone to the police with the allegations and especially regretted that authorities had charged our client. At trial, our lead defense attorney used this information to cross-examine the customer. The effective cross-examination raised reasonable doubt that our client's online communications met the statutory elements of cyber-stalking. The jury returned a not-guilty verdict, absolving our client of wrongdoing. Our client retained her cosmetology license without professional discipline.
Software Engineer Successfully Defends Child Pornography Charges
A software engineer working in a Pennsylvania office of a multinational corporation retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his arrest for online child pornography. The charges alleged that the state's cybercrime unit had traced child pornography searches to our client's electronic address. The unit had obtained and executed a search warrant, confiscating our client's home computer. Our Criminal Defense Team retained a computer forensics expert to examine our client's accounts and computer. The prosecution permitted our expert to examine and test the computer in the presence of the prosecution's computer expert. The two experts' examination indicated that the searches had not originated from the computer and that the computer did not store and had not distributed any child pornography images. Our client allowed our computer expert to examine his other devices, including a laptop computer, tablet, and cell phone. The examinations produced similar results. Our client and our retained expert both opined that hackers could make it appear that searches had come from the hacked account when they had instead originated with the hackers. When we presented this information to the prosecutor at a pre-trial conference, along with a request that the prosecution share the details of the cybercrime unit's investigation for our expert's review to see if hackers left traces, the prosecutor refused and instead moved to voluntarily dismiss the charges.