Cyber crimes include illegal activities ranging from identity theft to computer fraud and computer hacking. States and the federal government have laws that criminalize various types of behavior involving computers, computer systems, and the internet, and each has its own requirements and potential penalties. If you are facing charges for violation of state or federal laws, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact Brian Zeiger for a free consultation.
Computer crime describes a very broad category of offenses. Some of them are the same as non-computer offenses, such as larceny or fraud, except that a computer or the Internet is used in the commission of the crime. Others, like many forms of hacking, are uniquely related to computers.
Cybercrime is a category of computer crimes. Cyber crimes are criminal offenses committed via the internet or otherwise aided by various forms of computer technology, such as the use of online social networks to bully others or the use of a smartphone to send sexually explicit digital photos. While computer crimes cover a wide range of activity, internet crime laws punish activity that specifically involves the internet in some way. These laws apply to emails, websites, and use of the internet to commit identity theft or other forms of fraud. Like computer crimes, both individual states and the federal government have laws that apply to internet crime. Other computer crimes, such as cyberbullying, sexting, and a host of other crimes commonly committed online or with the help of computer networking technology also constitute cyber crimes.
Most Common Cyber Crimes
Computer crime laws in many states prohibit a person from performing certain acts without authorization, including:
- Improperly accessing a computer, system, or network
- Modifying, damaging, using, disclosing, copying, or taking programs or data
- Introducing a virus or other contaminant into a computer system
- Using a computer in a scheme to defraud
Interfering with someone else’s computer access or use
- Using encryption in aid of a crime
In addition to the above, the following types of online activities can be charged as cyber crimes:
- Online stalking and harassment – Pennsylvania have strict laws against activities that qualify as stalking or harassment, and these laws extend to the online environment. Stalking involves communicating with another person without proper authority in a manner that causes substantial emotional distress or a reasonable fear of harm. Harassment involves conduct or repeated communications that serve no purpose or are obscene or threatening. These activities are still considered to be criminal offenses when communications are made via email, social media sites, or other online forums. Pennsylvania also has a specific offense of “cyber-harassment of a child” that applies to online threats or disparaging comments to a minor.
- Online child pornography – Child pornography is another crime that is commonly conducted through use of the internet. It is unlawful to post, disseminate, distribute, or sell images or videos of minors engaging in sexual activity on the internet.
Possible Penalties for Cyber Crimes
As with any type of criminal offense, the potential penalties if you are convicted of a cybercrime will depend on the nature of the charges. The following contains information regarding possible cybercrime charges and sentences in Pennsylvania:
- Harassment – Third-degree misdemeanor charge; imprisonment for up to one year; $2,500 fine.
- Stalking – First-degree misdemeanor charge; imprisonment for up to five years; $10,000 fine.
- Computer trespass – Third-degree felony; imprisonment for up to seven years; $15,000 fine.
- Computer theft – Third-degree felony; imprisonment for up to seven years; $15,000 fine.
- Unlawful use of computers – Third-degree felony; imprisonment for up to seven years; $15,000 fine.
- Online child pornography – Third-degree felony; imprisonment for up to seven years; $15,000 fine.
The above charges and penalties will escalate for subsequent convictions of cyber crimes. In addition, any stalking or harassment convictions related to family members could be considered domestic offenses; if so, they may hinder your ability to work in certain jobs or affect your child custody rights. Sex-related online offenses could require you to register as a sex offender, which would mean that the public would have access to information such as your name, address, conviction, and more. Regardless of the type of cyber crime you have been charged with, the harshness of the penalties you face mean that it is essential for you to obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney to help protect your legal rights.
How a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Whether you have been arrested or charged—or even if you suspect that you may be under investigation—for a cybercrime, your first call should be to a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands how to defend against cyber crimes. As soon as we begin representing you, we will ensure your rights are fully protected. This includes representing you in all communications with law enforcement agencies and ensuring the suppression of any evidence obtained while you were subject to unlawful search or seizure. We will also ensure that your bail is not excessive and that you do not unnecessarily remain behind bars during your case.
In addition, we can do the following:
- Stand up for you in all court hearings
- Investigate and gather evidence in your defense
- Raise all possible legal defenses
- Negotiate a favorable plea deal when possible
- Represent you at trial
Contact Brian Zeiger
When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania attorney to defend you after being arrested and charged with a with a white-collar crime, contact Brian Zeiger. It is critical to have an experienced attorney advocating on your behalf. Brian Zeiger is an experienced criminal defense attorney who will vigorously defend your rights. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of your charges, explore plea options, or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.
Contact The Zeiger Firm today at (215) 546-0340 for an initial consultation, and let us help you.