What Is a Computer Crime?
Computer crimes involve the use of a computer to commit a crime in some way. Computer crime laws became necessary as computers became immensely popular all over the world in the late 80s. The first cohesive set of computer crimes law at the federal level came in 1986 with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. As computer technology continued to improve, computer crimes became more sophisticated. This resulted in several amendments to the Act and will continue to require amendments as new forms of computer crime emerge. If you are facing federal criminal charges, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Federal Computer Crimes?
The penalties for federal computer crimes can vary and can result in up to ten years in prison for certain cases and twenty years for second offenders. The punishment for these charges can vary depending on the facts and circumstances. A conviction for trespassing a government computer can result in up to one year in jail, while obtaining national security information can result in up to ten years in federal prison. Fines, probation, and other punishments can be imposed for a computer crimes conviction.
What Are the Types of Computer Crime?
Computer crimes can take on many forms. One source of federal computer crime law is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act found at 18 USC 1030. There are seven major categories of federal computer crimes under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, they are:
- Obtaining national security information
- Accessing a computer and obtaining information
- Trespassing on a government computer
- Accessing a computer to defraud & obtain value
- Intentionally damaging by knowing transmission
- Recklessly damaging by intentional access
- Negligently causing damage & loss by intentional access
- Trafficking in passwords
- Extortion involving computers
Other special laws that outlaw wiretapping can be found at 18 USC 2511 within the Wiretap Act. The laws within this section include:
- Intercepting a communication
- Disclosing an intercepted communication
- Using an intercepted communication
These are just some examples of activity that is deemed illegal computer crimes under state and federal laws. Other laws related to computer crime, such as identity theft, wire fraud, and interfering with a communication can result in federal criminal charges being filed against you for any alleged violations. For a federal criminal charge to be filed, the activity must occur within a special jurisdiction or must take place in a federal facility. Since computers are often stationary, if the reach of the illegal act crosses state lines, then a federal charge can be filed. If the case does not meet federal guidelines, then it can be charged and prosecuted under state law.
What Are Some Examples of Defenses to Computer Crime?
There are a few different types of defenses that can be available for a computer crime charge. Some common examples of defenses to a computer crime include:
- Lack of intent
- Illegally obtained evidence
- False accusation
If you are facing computer crime charges, then one of the above defenses might apply to your case. Your conduct online can result in serious charges, so it is important to understand how these defenses can potentially help you in your case. Each case is unique, make sure that you have your case professionally assessed by an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to determine what your best defenses are.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
All federal criminal cases are processed in federal District Courts across the United States. There are three federal District Courts in the state of Pennsylvania, the Central, Middle, and Eastern Districts. All federal cases in Pennsylvania are processed in these courts. If you live in central or eastern Pennsylvania, then your criminal case will be processed in the middle or eastern district court.
If you lose your case in a Pennsylvania federal district court, then you can appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The only court higher than this is the United States Supreme Court. A case will only make it to the Supreme Court if the Supreme Court decides to hear the case. There is no right to be heard in the United States Supreme Court on an appeal. An experienced attorney can help you understand the court process and what you must do to defend your case.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are facing criminal charges, then it is critical to have an experienced attorney on your side. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and help you review any evidence against you. This information is important so you can build a defense. An experienced criminal defense attorney can also help you determine if it is best to take your case to a trial or work out a resolution.
If you want to resolve your case, then your attorney can help you negotiate a deal and give you their opinion on whether you should take the deal negotiated by them. Before making any decisions in your case, make sure you understand everything about the case you have and what can happen if you are convicted. If you have legal questions, then contact us at The Lento Law Firm today!
Why Hiring Lento Law Is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted federally for a computer crime, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring Lento Law is the right choice to help defend your federal case.