FAIRFAX ATTORNEY DEFENDING CLIENTS AGAINST CYBER CRIME CHARGES
In the 21st century, computers are an essential aspect of our lives, so no one is surprised that computer crimes – “cyber crimes” – are increasing. Because it spans the globe and reaches millions of people, the internet has made possible all kinds of criminal activities.
How does the law in the state of Virginia address these crimes? Exactly what constitutes a cyber crime? That answer is simple: If anyone uses a smartphone or a computer to perpetrate a crime, it constitutes a cyber crime.
For example, if someone who is online in Virginia solicits a minor in Colorado, posts revenge porn photos of a person in Illinois, or steals intellectual property off a computer in New Mexico, it’s a cyber crime. Anyone could be falsely accused – even “framed” – for such a crime.
WHAT ARE THE LAWS THAT DEAL WITH CYBER CRIMES?
A number of federal and state laws address the various types of cyber crimes. Approximately forty different federal statutes govern internet fraud, pornography, drugs, software piracy, gambling, and security fraud. In our own state, the Virginia Computer Crimes Act prohibits:
- Computer fraud
- Spamming: Sending unsolicited advertising or falsifying email transmission details
- Computer trespassing
- Computer invasion of privacy
- Phishing: Obtaining someone’s personal information through online deception
- Harassment by computer
A theft perpetrated by using a computer – including intellectual property theft – is considered a serious crime, but the most serious cyber crimes include soliciting a minor and uploading or downloading child pornography.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE IS ACCUSED OF A COMPUTER CRIME?
If you’re accused of a cyber crime, your social media accounts, text messages, and emails will be thoroughly scrutinized by law enforcement. Your phone and computer will be examined. If a crime involves the internet, minors, and sex, Virginia’s prosecutors can be zealously aggressive.
Federal prosecutors also prosecute alleged cyber criminals zealously. When a cyber crime involves individuals in several states, a federal law has probably been broken, and charges may be pursued in federal court.
Some cyber crimes are serious felonies. Others are less severe misdemeanors. The charge that a defendant faces – and the sentence if that defendant is convicted – will depend on the specific crime allegation, the details of the allegation, and the defendant’s own criminal record (if any).
WHAT PENALTIES MAY BE IMPOSED FOR CYBER CRIME CONVICTIONS?
Misdemeanor cyber crime convictions are typically punished with fines and probation. A felony cyber crime conviction may or may not also be penalized with jail or prison. The most serious cyber crimes may be penalized with up to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
If you’re convicted of a cyber crime, you could pay a serious fine, be ordered to register as a sex offender, or even spend time in a state or federal prison. Again, it depends on the details of the case and the charge.
If you’re charged with a cyber crime, you can’t choose a lawyer who has little or no computer expertise. In fact, in cyber crime trials, it is usually the defense attorney’s task to educate the judge and the jurors about the digital technology involved in the case.
HOW WILL YOUR DEFENSE LAWYER FIGHT A CYBER CRIME CHARGE?
If police officers violated the law while investigating you, or if your rights are violated during an interrogation, a search, or an arrest, a good Fairfax cyber crime attorney might be able to have any charges against you dismissed.
Cyber crime charges sometimes arise from a misunderstanding or a mistake – without any criminal intention. Innocent persons are sometimes confused or tricked into clicking a hyperlink they should not click – so you could accidentally commit a cyber crime and not even know it.
But as a strategy against a cyber crime charge, entrapment rarely works. Internet sting operations aimed at sexual predators have to follow specific rules. Police officers know the rules regarding entrapment, and in most cyber crime investigations, they’re careful to adhere to those rules.
The best strategy for the average person in Virginia is basic common sense. Don’t discuss sex on the internet with anyone you don’t know. Don’t discuss anything online that implies criminal activity. Follow these two rules, and you’ll probably avoid being charged with a cyber crime.
HOW CAN YOU LEARN MORE – OR GET LEGAL HELP?
Since 2000, defense attorney Scott C. Nolan has represented clients charged with cyber crimes and other serious criminal charges in Northern Virginia’s state and federal courts. He has the experience, knowledge, and legal skills that you will need if you’re charged with a cyber crime.
Attorney Scott C. Nolan will investigate a cyber crime charge, find any weaknesses in the government’s case against you, and present an aggressive, effective defense on your behalf.
To learn more or to schedule a legal consultation, call his law offices or contact Scott C. Nolan online. If your future and your freedom are at risk because of a computer crime charge, you must be represented by the right Fairfax cyber crime attorney.