As part of its ongoing fight against internet crime and cybercrime, the United States government has established strict federal laws that prohibit the use of the internet, computers or computer networks to commit illegal acts, and the criminal penalties that accompany an internet crime conviction can be severe, with some of the most serious internet-related crimes carrying a potential sentence of years in prison or a life sentence. If you have been accused of committing an internet crime, or if you have been formally charged in federal court, it is imperative that you have a trusted, trial-tested defense attorney on your side who can skillfully navigate the federal criminal justice system and improve your chances of securing a favorable outcome at trial. Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro today to discuss your case with a seasoned federal criminal defense lawyer.
Knowledgeable Federal Internet Crimes Attorney
Contrary to what you may think about the internet and the perceived anonymity it offers, your online identity is not protected from the purview of the federal government. In fact, any time you use the internet, you leave behind a cyber trail that can almost always be traced back to you, and if you are accused of committing an internet crime in violation of federal law, the government can use your online history as evidence against you in your case. In order to offer effective legal representation in your internet crime case, your defense attorney must have extensive knowledge of criminal law, the various federal statutes pertaining to cybercrime and internet-related offenses, and the federal sentencing guidelines, if they apply to your case. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, our internet crime defense team makes it a top priority to stay abreast of federal internet- and computer-related laws and we will rely on this knowledge and expertise in your criminal case.
Internet crime cases can be complicated and confusing, especially when they involve multiple federal charges and alleged victims, and it takes a defense attorney with a proven history of success defending clients against internet crime charges to put forth the most effective defense in your case. The truth is that federal prosecutors generally only pursue criminal cases they are confident they can prove in court and once they have a target in their sights, they will work tirelessly to prove their case and get a conviction. Without a reputable federal criminal defense lawyer working just as hard on your behalf to develop a defense that raises a reasonable doubt as to your guilt, you could find yourself sentenced to years in prison, possibly for a crime you didn’t commit. Unfortunately, because internet crimes rely a great deal on circumstantial evidence, you can be wrongfully accused of an internet crime and it isn’t uncommon for a wrongful accusation to result in a conviction.
Types of Internet Crimes
The term “internet crime” is an extremely broad legal term referring to any illegal act conducted through the use of the internet. Internet crime falls within the broader category of cybercrime, which is a type of crime that involves the use of a computer or computer network or targets a computer. With the rapid expansion and use of the internet, most cyber-crimes are now also considered internet crimes. The following are some examples of crimes that may lead to an investigation and potential prosecution for an internet crime or cyber-crime:
- Identity theft
- Money laundering
- Trafficking in passwords
- Accessing a computer without authorization
- Information theft
- Theft of service
- Unlawfully altering computer data
- Cyber attacks
- Stalking, threatening or bullying
- Solicitation of minors using the internet
- Investment fraud
- Internet child pornography
- Internet auction fraud
- Computer hacking
- Credit card fraud
- Internet extortion
Federal laws governing internet crimes cover a wide range of online activity and apply to emails and websites, as well as using the internet to commit fraud or identity theft. In fact, the type of internet crime that people are most familiar with is identity theft, which involves using the internet to steal another person’s personal information and then using that information to empty their bank accounts, make purchases with their credit cards, or obtain new lines of credit. In many cases, internet identity theft involves other types of internet crimes and illegal activities, such as skimming, phishing, credit card fraud or even child pornography.
What Makes an Internet Crime a Federal Offense?
Most states have laws prohibiting internet crimes like computer hacking and credit card fraud, but because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has jurisdiction over the internet, these types of offenses are more commonly prosecuted at the federal level. For the most part, the federal government concerns itself with large-scale internet crimes designed to defraud individuals, companies or the government, such as money laundering or computer hacking schemes involving government networks. However, virtually any crime committed through the use of the internet or a computer can be charged as a federal crime carrying severe criminal penalties upon conviction. Additionally, because the internet can be used to distribute information across state lines, which is a hallmark of a federal offense, other internet crimes like solicitation of minors and child pornography can be charged at the federal level.
How are Internet Crimes and White-Collar Crimes Related?
The internet has also made white-collar crimes like money laundering and securities fraud more prevalent than ever and has also made it easier for the federal government to track and prosecute these crimes. White-collar crimes, also known as corporate crimes, are non-violent offenses typically committed by business executives or government professionals through the use of deceit for the purpose of financial gain. Most white-collar crimes are charged and prosecuted at the federal level, and while these offenses are non-violent in nature, the consequences of a conviction are still severe.
How are Internet Crimes Punished?
One of the fastest growing areas of the law involves internet crimes, computer crimes and cybercrime and the federal government has taken a tough stance against these types of offenses, imposing upon convicted offenders harsh criminal penalties that can follow them for the rest of their lives, possibly including costly fines, prison, probation, restitution and community service. There are a number of federal laws and statutes that address computer-related crimes, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 and 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (“Fraud and related activity in connection with computers”). Technically, these laws only cover “protected computers,” which are computers:
“(A) exclusively for the use of a financial institution or the United States Government, or, in the case of a computer not exclusively for such use, used by or for a financial institution or the United States Government and the conduct constituting the offense affects that use by or for the financial institution or the Government; or
(B) which is used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication, including a computer located outside the United States that is used in a manner that affects interstate or foreign commerce or communication of the United States.”
However, because the internet is considered a facility that “affects interstate or foreign commerce or communication,” any ordinary computer can come under the jurisdiction of this law. Under 18 U.S. Code § 1030, the crime of computer-related fraud carries a potential punishment of up to 20 years in prison.
Many internet crimes occur in conjunction with other federal offenses, like wire fraud and mail fraud, which can result in multiple criminal charges and increased penalties upon conviction. The penalties associated with internet crime convictions are severe, but even if you are never found guilty in a court of law, you can still suffer harsh consequences just by being charged with or accused of the crime, which can cost you your job and your reputation and burden you with the stigma of being an alleged criminal.
Defending Against Internet Crime Charges
The federal government has a number of powerful tools at its disposal for investigating and prosecuting internet crimes, and in many cases, especially when a large-scale internet crime is suspected, the government will spend weeks, months or even years collecting evidence against the suspect or suspects. This can make internet crime charges brought by the federal government extremely difficult to defend against, but it is important to remember that the federal government is held to the same burden of proof as the prosecution in any criminal case. In order to secure a conviction for an internet crime, the government must be able to prove each element of the criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt, which is an extremely high standard of evidence.
Defense Strategies for Internet Crime Cases
When facing charges in federal court for an internet-related crime like fraud or information theft, you are up against the full force of the federal government, which has the time, funding and resources to send you to prison for the rest of your life, depending on the severity of the crime you are accused of committing. That being said, all defendants in criminal cases are presumed innocent until proven guilty under the law, and no matter how serious your criminal charges may seem, there is always a defense your attorney can use to challenge the prosecution’s case and improve your chances of obtaining an acquittal at trial. Generally, the following defense strategies may be used to defend against internet crime charges:
- You were wrongfully accused of the crime
- You are the victim of mistaken identity
- You are the victim of entrapment
- The prosecution obtained the evidence against you during an illegal search
- You were an unknowing participant in the internet crime
How Our Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help
The internet has become an essential communication tool for people all over the world, one that most of us use on a daily basis, for either personal or professional purposes. Unfortunately, the proliferation of the internet has also given rise to a host of serious internet-related crimes like identity theft, information theft, computer hacking and internet extortion, which the federal government has embarked on a zealous mission to investigate and prosecute. Internet crime is an extremely specialized area of the law that is constantly changing and being updated to keep up with advancements in technology and the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed through the use of technology. Internet crimes are investigated by the FBI, ICE and other federal agencies and are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and charges for these crimes should not be taken lightly.
Our criminal defense attorneys believe that all defendants in federal criminal cases deserve and should have access to quality, affordable legal representation, and that is what we strive to provide at Federal Criminal Defense Pro. When you retain the legal services of Federal Criminal Defense Pro, our defense attorneys will investigate the circumstances surrounding your criminal charges, inform you of your rights and the options available to you under the law, and develop a credible and compelling defense to challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you. Our law firm is based in Los Angeles, California and we represent defendants in a wide variety of criminal cases at the state level in California and at the federal level in all 50 states. We also provide a free initial consultation for prospective clients, so call our firm today to have a knowledgeable federal criminal defense lawyer review your case.
Contact Our Internet Crime Defense Attorneys Today
The potential consequences of an internet crime conviction can be devastating for your freedom, your reputation and your financial security, and if you have been charged with a federal internet crime like credit card fraud, child pornography or identity theft, it is imperative that you have a knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and represent your interests. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, our skilled criminal defense attorneys have a clear understanding of federal criminal law and the federal court process and have years of experience defending cases just like yours. With our internet crimes defense team on your side, you will have the best chance of getting your criminal charges dismissed or securing an acquittal at trial. Contact our law firm today for a free evaluation of your federal internet crime charges.