What Is a Federal Cybercrime?
Cybercrimes involve using a computer to do something illegal online. Cybercrime laws emerged as computers became popular in the late 80s. The first comprehensive set of computer-based laws came in 1986, and it was called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. As computers get more advanced, so do crimes involving the use of computers. This means that computer laws have needed to change to keep up with new forms of computer-based crime and will continue to evolve. If you are facing federal criminal charges, then it is important to talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
What Are the Types of Federal Cybercrime?
Federal cybercrimes involve the use of a computer to commit a crime and can take on several forms. One major federal law regarding federal cybercrimes is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act found at 18 USC 1030. There are seven major kinds of federal cybercrimes 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 federal cybercrime laws such as wiretapping can be found at 18 USC 2511 within the Wiretap Act. These laws include:
- Intercepting a communication
- Disclosing an intercepted communication
- Using an intercepted communication
Other laws related to federal cybercrime, such as identity theft, wire fraud, and interfering with a communication, are also prohibited under federal law. A federal criminal charge can be authorized against someone if their alleged illegal activity took place in a specific location or if it took place using a computer that is in a federal facility. If the accused committed a cybercrime using a computer and the alleged activity crossed state lines in some way, then it can be charged as a federal crime. If a criminal case does not meet the requirements for federal charges, then the case can be charged and prosecuted under state law.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Federal Cybercrimes?
The punishment for federal cybercrimes can vary depending on the facts and circumstances. A conviction for trafficking in computer access (18 USC 1030(a)(6) can result in up to one year in jail, while a conviction for extortionate threats (18 USC 1030(a)(7) can result in up to five years in federal prison. Fines, probation, and other punishments can be ordered by a judge for a federal cybercrimes conviction.
Fines can be as high as $250,000 for trafficking in computer access for an individual and up to $500,000 for an organization. A subsequent offense can result in up to ten years in federal prison. The maximum fine for a conviction for extortionate threats is also $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for an organization.
Other consequences exist for a conviction, such as the seizure of any property obtained or used in the offense and potential restitution ordered by the court to make any victims financially whole from the defendant's conduct.
What Are the Potential Defenses for Federal Cybercrimes?
There are a few different types of defenses that can be available for a federal cybercrime charge. Some common examples of defenses to a federal cybercrime accusation include:
- Lack of intent
- Illegally obtained evidence
- False accusation
If you are charged with a federal cybercrime, one of the defenses above might help. Your behavior online can result in consequences such as criminal charges, so it is important to understand how these defenses can help you. Cases should be assessed individually as each has its own set of facts and circumstances. Make sure you have your case evaluated by an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
Federal criminal cases are processed in federal District Courts according to region. Pennsylvania has three federal District Courts. They are the central, middle, and eastern district courts. All federal cases in Pennsylvania are heard in these courts based on location. If your case occurs in central or eastern Pennsylvania, then your criminal case will be heard in the middle district court or eastern district court.
If you lose in federal district court in Pennsylvania, then you can appeal. These appeals go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The only remaining higher court is the United States Supreme Court. You can only go to the Supreme Court if the Court agrees to hear your case. There is no right for any case to be automatically heard in the United States Supreme Court. An experienced attorney can help you understand important court rules and procedures.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are charged with a crime, then it is important to have an attorney who understands the charges and the evidence against you. This information is important so you can build a defense. An experienced attorney can also help you decide if it is best to go to trial or work out a resolution. If you have legal questions, then contact us at the Lento Law Firm!
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm Is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted federally for a cybercrime, 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 us is the right choice to help defend your federal case.