In recent years, state and federal prosecutors have shown an increased interest in bringing computer and Internet crimes charges against people accused of violating a wide range of laws. If you have been charged with a crime related to computers or the Internet in California state or federal court, Mary Frances Prévost is an experienced computer crimes defense lawyer who will fight to protect your rights and prove your innocence. She is dedicated to the zealous representation and defense of clients in San Diego and the surrounding areas. For a free and confidential consultation about your computer crimes case, call (888) 909-7893 today.
Computer and Internet Crimes
It is important to understand that both federal law and California law prohibit certain behaviors online and over computer networks. This means that you could be facing criminal charges for your Internet or computer-based activities in both California state court and in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, which has jurisdiction over people in San Diego and the surrounding areas.
Federal Computer Crimes
Below is a list of common federal computer and Internet crimes. The United States Code contains several provisions applicable to computer and Internet activity. This list is not exhaustive, and you could be facing additional charges in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
Generally speaking, the federal criminal laws listed above prohibit the following activities:
- Computer hacking
- Orchestrating and carrying out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
- Downloading, distributing, selling, and/or trafficking child pornography
- Illegally intercepting and/or recording communications including phone calls, voicemails, emails, and online text, voice, or video chats
- Republishing or distributing illegally intercepted and/or recorded communications
- Using computers or the Internet to commit fraud
- Interfering with government operations over a computer network or the Internet
- Exceeding authorized access to a protected computer as defined by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
- Fraudulently obtaining computer or Internet passwords
- Stalking or persistently harassing someone online, or “cyberstalking”
- Making threats of serious bodily injury or kidnapping over the Internet or other electronic communications channels
Defenses to Federal Computer Crimes
The federal laws applicable to computer and Internet crimes are complex and difficult for prosecutors, judges, and juries to understand. It is extremely important that you hire an aggressive criminal defense attorney with experience defending clients against federal computer and Internet crimes charges. The information in this section is not a substitute for legal advice. Only a computer crimes defense lawyer can tell you which legal defenses are available to you in your case. Defenses to federal computer crimes include, but are not limited to:
- Fourth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
- Fifth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
- Your activities constitute protected speech under the First Amendment;
- You did not engage in the activity prohibited by the statute under which you were charged;
- Forensic analysis of your hard drive or that of another shows that you did not access the computer you were accused of hacking;
- Forensic analysis of your hard drive shows that you did not receive, download, or distribute child pornography; and/or
- You did not have the intent or state of mind required for a conviction under the statute you were accused of violating.
California Computer Crimes
California law also criminalizes certain computer and Internet activities. This means that you can be charged by a California state prosecutor and be required to appear in California state court if you are accused of violating certain provisions of the California Penal Code.
Computer Fraud under California Penal Code § 502
In California, the most commonly charged computer crimes are defined by California Penal Code § 502. California Penal Code § 502 prohibits:
- Knowingly accessing and without permission altering, damaging, deleting, destroying, or otherwise using any data, computer, computer system, or computer network in order either to:
- devise or execute a scheme to defraud, deceive, or extort, or
- wrongfully control or obtain money, property, or data.
- Knowingly accessing and without permission taking, copying, or using any data from a computer, computer system, or computer network.
- Knowingly and without permission using (or causing to be used) computer services.
- Knowingly introducing any “computer contaminant” (like a virus or a “worm”) into any computer, computer system, or computer network.
- Knowingly and without permission using someone else’s internet domain name to send one or more emails, and thereby damaging or causing damage to a computer, computer system, or computer network.
Other California Computer and Internet Crimes
In addition to the anti-computer fraud provisions of the California Penal Code, you may be charged with a crime in California state court for engaging in any of the following activities:
- Illegally intercepting and/or recording phone, email, or online communications,
- Downloading, distributing, or trafficking in child pornography,
- Harassing or cyberstalking someone online,
- Posting nude photographs of someone without their consent, even if the person is over the age of 18,
- Committing fraud using a computer or the Internet, and/or
- Making threats of serious bodily harm or kidnapping over the Internet.
San Diego Computer Crimes Defense Lawyer
If you are facing state or federal computer crimes charges, Mary Frances Prévost can help. She offers her clients in San Diego and the surrounding areas years of courtroom experience. To speak with her about your computer or Internet crimes case, call (888) 909-7896.
Do not leave your freedom to chance. Contact the Law Offices of Mary Frances Prévost today.