Computer-related crimes encompass a broad range of activities and in some cases, it may be possible to commit a violation without being aware that you’re doing so. With information readily available via the Internet, the federal government takes cybercrime investigations seriously and makes every effort to prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law. If you’re facing charges for computer crimes, hiring a defense attorney should be your first priority.
What constitutes a computer crime?
There are a number of offenses that may be classified as cybercrime. Under Illinois law, an individual can be charged with computer fraud if he or she knowingly:
- Accesses data or programs on a computer without the consent or knowledge of the owner
- Alters, damages or destroys a computer program or data with the intent to defraud or otherwise cause harm
- Uses a computer to access information for the specific purpose of defrauding an individual or institution for financial gain
Computer crimes that cross state lines or violate federal law can be prosecuted as federal offenses. A wide array of offenses can be categorized as federal computer crimes, including:
- Identity theft
- Distribution of child pornography
- Solicitation of a minor
- Money laundering
- Spamming or phishing
- Copyright infringement
Computer Crime Charges and Penalties
The penalty for a cybercrime conviction depends on the type of offense involved and whether you’ve been charged at the state or federal level. In Illinois, computer crimes may be treated as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. For example, offenses involving spam email campaigns may be treated as a Class A or Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine and a jail sentence. Computer crimes involving the deliberate intent to defraud an individual or business are treated as felonies, with the most severe cases punishable by a prison term of 3 to 7 years and a fine of up to $25,000.
The federal penalties for computer crimes can be severe and may result in significant fines and a lengthy prison stay. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may face charges for conspiracy or mail and wire fraud, which are punishable by fines and prison terms. You may also be required to pay restitution if your crime caused financial loss or bodily harm to the victim or victims. In cases where the computer crime involved a sex act perpetrated against a minor, you may also be have to register as a sex offender. Every situation is unique and only a qualified Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case to determine the potential penalties you may face.
How our Team Could Fight for You
The laws governing computer crimes are far-reaching and in many cases, the average person may not be aware of what can constitute a criminal act. An arrest for cybercrime can be frightening and you may not know where to turn for help. If you’ve become the subject of an investigation or prosecution for computer crimes in Illinois or at the federal level, you need to contact Attorney Michael Schmiege today.
Michael Schmiege is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer with experience defending clients in both state and federal court. He understands the implications of a criminal conviction and is committed to mounting an aggressive defense on your behalf. If you’ve been arrested for computer crimes, you need an attorney who understands the complexities of your case.