Cybercrime refers to any crime that involves using a computer or networked device to commit a criminal act or committing a crime that targets a computer. There are dozens of different types of cybercrimes, ranging from cyberbullying to hacking, fraud, theft, and more.
Tampa criminal defense attorney Mike G is here to break down the various types of cybercrimes, how they are treated in a court of law, and what ramifications they could have for your life and career if you are found guilty.
Major Types of Computer Crimes
While there are many types of crimes that can be committed online or with a computer, they break down into four general categories:
Computer and Internet Crimes
Computer crime covers a broad category of offenses. These offenses could include larceny or fraud, but a computer must be used to commit the act. Improper or unauthorized access to a computer or network is also considered a crime.
Many cybercrimes involve modifying or using private programs or data. They can also include using a virus to contaminate the computer or server’s system.
Computers are frequently used to defraud people. Phishing schemes happen when someone sets up an email or website to look like a legitimate website, then uses this website to collect personal data that can then be used for financial fraud or identity theft.
One of the most common types of cybercrime is sex-related crimes. Computers and smartphones can be used to commit various sex-related offenses, from unwanted sexting or sexting with someone underage to possessing unlawful pornography. Computers can also be used to solicit sex unlawfully.
One of the most serious computer crimes is producing or possessing child pornography. In some cases, both parties were minors at the time of the recording, but the law does not exempt these cases. This crime can have a significant impact on the accused’s life if they are convicted.
Cyberbullying involves using the Internet or mobile technology to intimidate, harass, or harm someone. Bullying has been a problem for many years, but it has now moved from the schoolyard to social media, email, and text messages. Most states have some cyberbullying laws in place.
Cyberbullying is serious because it can be more traumatizing than traditional types of bullying. Through mobile communications, bullying can spread to all of a child’s acquaintances, friends, and family. This causes the victim more embarrassment and shame. Also, cyberbullying can persist 24 hours a day, while typical bullying only occurs while the victim and perpetrator are physically together.
Cyberbullying has become a focus of many advocacy programs for youth. The lasting impact on children and young people means that this is treated as a serious crime.
Identity theft involves tricking a person into giving up their valuable personal information and then using it to set up accounts in their name, impacting their credit report and finances. Identity theft can also occur when a person’s information is stolen from a government or financial entity. It can take years for a victim of identity theft to set their finances in order and reclaim their lives.
Many cybercriminals are unlikely to be caught since proving who committed these crimes can be challenging to determine. In cases where cybercriminals are punished, their penalties may be more severe than the penalties for comparable crimes of non-computer fraud or unauthorized access.
Penalties for Cyber Crimes
The United States has some of the world’s strictest laws against cybercrime. Cybersecurity legislation includes many regulations. The United States Code (18 U.S.C.) contains most of the federal cybercrime legislation. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act are amendments to this code.
According to United States law, cybercrimes include but are not limited to:
- Fraud and related activity connected with identification documents and information: Fines apply to the unlawful use of personal data, and perpetrators may be imprisoned for 5 to 20 years.
- Misleading Internet domain names: Fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years.
- Fraud and related activity connected with access devices or computers: fines or imprisonment of a maximum of 20 years may be levied.
- Intercepting and disclosing wire or electronic communications: Fine and/or a jail sentence of up to 5 years.
- Fraud connected with electronic mail: Fines and/or jail sentences of 3 to 5 years.
- Sexual exploitation of children online or via computer: Fine and minimum 15 years to 30-year imprisonment.
- Unlawful access to stored communications: Fine or imprisonment of 5 years for a first offense. Subsequent offenses can have up to a 10-year prison term.
Each state also has its laws for cybercrime. Some of the most notable laws include:
Alabama: Computer tampering, data fraud, and phishing could be punished by up to 99 years in jail with a $60,000 fine.
Kentucky: Defined computer crimes can be charged as a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C felony. Up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine or double what was gained during the crime.
Texas: Tampering with voting machines, soliciting minors, posting under another person’s identity with the intent to harm, revealing personal information, and more. Class B misdemeanor of up to 180 days in county jail plus $2,000 fine up to 1st-degree felony and up to life in prison plus $10,000 fine.
West Virginia: Computer fraud, accessing legislative computers, soliciting a minor, unauthorized possession of software or data, unauthorized access to computer services, disruption or denial of service, invasion of privacy, disclosure of security information, accessing confidential government information. Treated as a misdemeanor of up to 6 months in jail plus $1,000 fine to a felony of 10 years in prison plus a fine of $10,000.
How Cyber Crimes Can Affect Your Life
Cybercrime is not a victimless crime. People who may have committed cybercrimes need to be sure that they cover all their bases when it comes to defending themselves against these accusations. If you know that you did not commit a cybercrime, you should contact qualified legal representation as soon as possible.
You need to know your rights on the state and federal level, and you need to understand how the penalties for cybercrimes can affect your life for many years to come. The cybercrimes that could have the most severe impact on a person’s life involve soliciting or producing sexual images or videos of children. These crimes could carry several years in jail, high fines, and lifetime requirements to be registered with the state.
Talk to a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of committing an internet crime, contact our team here at Mike G Law.
Tampa criminal defense attorney Mike G will examine your problem in detail, develop a plan for defense, and ensure your rights are protected in court. During your free consultation, we will discuss your case and talk about how our team will fight for you.