With nearly everything being available online and everyone using electronic devices to complete tasks, committing crimes through the internet has never been easier or more varied. While these actions may not seem like a big deal in some instances, many may have more serious legal consequences than you may think.
If you face charges for cybercrime, it is important to understand some basic legal principles so you can establish the best defense with the help of an attorney.
Types of cyber crimes
Most cybercrimes fit into one of the following categories:
- Denial of service (nondelivery)
- Unauthorized access (hacking)
- Malware, including ransomware (viruses)
- Fraud (wire, online auction, credit card, etc.)
- Identity theft
The underlying theme for these crimes is using computers to get money, property or services fraudulently, or to access, steal or tamper with files, software or security. Other crimes include cyberstalking and cyberbullying, which tend to be more common among youth.
Possible legal penalties
Depending on the type of crime, either the state or the federal government will be involved. Whether it is a misdemeanor or felony also relies on the intent and extent of the crime, including the value of any stolen property. Attempting to commit and assisting someone in committing an illegal activity are also crimes. If convicted, you may be sentenced to prison, have to hefty fines, and return the money or property you took. In addition, the victim(s) of the cybercrime may choose to file a civil lawsuit against you to obtain financial restitution.
Criminal charges and convictions may also negatively affect your current and future employment, as well as the social relationships you have. Even if your intent is not malicious, the consequences of cyber crimes are costly, far-reaching and long-lasting. If you have been arrested for a cybercrime, it is imperative that you obtain representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney.