A cybercrime, or computer crime, is a criminal offense committed using the Internet or otherwise aided by forms of computer technology. While computer crimes are relatively new phenomena, many of the crimes now committed via computers were committed in person before the age of the Internet.
With the growth of the Internet and the widespread use of smartphones, tablets, and PCs, North Carolina recognizes the new category of cybercrimes. Because cyber crimes are white-collar crimes, the state and federal government will go to great lengths to investigate and prosecute these cases. As a result, those convicted face life-changing consequences. If you’ve been charged with cybercrime, it is in your best interest to obtain legal advice from an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.
Federal and State Cyber Crime
While many are familiar with the common types of cybercrime, such as hacking, phishing, and cyber-bullying, a wide variety of activities qualify as computer crimes in North Carolina according to North Carolina General Statutes 14-453.
Examples of common computer crimes include:
- Computer or web site fraud
- Altering or damaging computer software, programs, or data
- Unlawfully accessing educational material or testing scores in a government computer
- Denying computer services to someone authorized to use them
Computer crimes may also be charged at the federal level. The U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and Electronics Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) focus on these crimes. At a federal level, the following are prohibited:
- Obtaining national security information
- Trespassing in a government computer
- Transmitting a computer virus
- Trafficking passwords
- Cyber fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Identity theft
- Child pornography
How a Defense Attorney Can Help
The nature of computer crimes can be complicated, making it crucial to have a criminal defense lawyer on your side. This team or individual should understand the underlying technology that supports the Internet or have access to reputable experts who do.
If prosecution seeks to prove that you used your computer for a cybercrime, they must show that it was you at the computer that did this. Merely providing the chat name or the IP address may not be enough as accounts can be easily hacked and IP addresses are shared.
While the burden of proof rests with the prosecution in these cases, those accused shouldn’t take a chance. The consequences of being found guilty for these types of crimes are serious.
Cyber Crime Penalties
From child pornography to Internet fraud, law enforcement and lawmakers aggressively confront computer crimes. Many local law enforcement organizations now have dedicated Cyber Crime units and personnel.
Cybercrimes punishments are affected by the particulars of a case as well as criminal history, prior convictions, and current probation status. Depending on the nature of the crime and the jurisdiction, computer crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or be elevated to a felony if aggravating factors are involved.
Possible punishments include:
- Up to 20 years in federal or state prison for a conviction on a single count
- Fines up to $250,000
- Loss of employment
Contact Dysart Willis Today
If you’ve been accused of a computer crime, choose a lawyer who understands these types of cases and who has access to reputable experts that can help analyze technology in your case. Computer-related criminal defense strategies depend on specifics that are unique to each client. We work closely with each individual to ensure he or she receives tailored legal advice.
Having a lawyer in your corner can change your fate. If you need assistance with cybercrime matter, Dysart Willis can help you. Call us at 919-747-8380 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.