Computers and other technological advances have become an essential part in most people’s everyday lives. When you walk down the street, whether it is in your hand or in your pocket, you have the internet at your fingertips via your cell phone. Technology has exposed us to wonderful things such as being able to Google anything at anytime or keeping in touch with family and friends via social networking sites. However, technology has also exposed us to computer crimes, also known as cyber-crimes. These crimes can range from cyber kidnapping to cyber-extortion. Cyber-crimes have huge impacts on the lives of their targets. Cyber-crimes are at an all-time high and it is greatly suggested that it is due to the anonymity that it gives its perpetrators that committing crimes in person does not offer.
What is Cyber-Crime?
Cyber-Crimes are criminal offenses committed over the internet or otherwise aided by various forms of computer technology, such as the use of online social networks to bully others or sending sexually explicit digital photos with a smart phone. According to Interpol there are three broad areas of cyber-crime:
- Attacks against computer hardware and software such as viruses
- Financial crimes and corruption such as cyber-extortion
- Abuse such as cyber-harassment
These broader areas of cyber-crime have expanded from small groups of people to organizations working with criminally minded technology professionals. With each of these areas of cyber-crime, criminals have found that their profits can be maximized and the time it takes to conduct these illegal activities has decreased. Due to the efficiency and anonymity that cyber-crime provides, the rate of cyber-crime increases yearly. According to the 2013 Norton Cyber-Crime Report, more than one million adults become cyber-crime victims every single day and, if you break that down, it equates to a staggering 12 victims per second.
What Are the Consequences of Cyber-Crime?
California has its own computer crime laws that are governed by California Penal Code Section 502. To be prosecuted for a computer crime/cyber-crime the state has to show that the defendant intended to extort, deceive, or defraud information, property, or money using a computer device or system. Cyber-crimes can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the crime. These crimes may be punishable by a fine not exceeding $10,000, imprisonment for two to three years, or a combination of both. However, if a defendant obtained information that is considered a cyber-crime or conducted what would usually be criminal activity via the internet, a defendant should consider whether he or she was working within the scope of his or her employment to complete an assignment. Outside of this defense, even if someone does not realize they are conducting a crime and does not have the intent to engage in criminal activity, they may still be criminally liable.
Need Further Assistance?
If you have been accused of committing a computer crime and would like to know your rights, please do not hesitate to contact Ozols Law Firm. We are here for you and we understand that your freedom is important. There may be a defense for your alleged crime and we will work hard on your behalf. We are here to fight for you!