Posted On: April 2, 2012

California Internet and Cyber Crimes

As computer technology continues to advance, we are seeing more technology and/or cyber related crimes than ever before. Identity theft, harassment, and threats of harm are on the rise. As the Internet has become a common source for people to get information, exchange information, purchase products, pay bills and communicate, it has also become a common source for criminal activity. Some of the more common Internet crimes are set out below:

Child Pornography & Crimes Against A Child

The Internet has become the main source for soliciting, watching and distributing child pornography.

Police agents often use websites and chat rooms, to search out potential criminals. However, this police tactic may also be considered entrapment. In other words you were induced or persuaded to do something that, under normal circumstances, you would not have done.

Identity Theft and/or Fraud

Because we shop and pay our bills on line, we have become comfortable with imputing our account information, with the false sense of security that our information will remain private. However, sophisticated individuals have figured out ways to retrieve personal information and use it to their benefit.

But, what if you are accused of identity theft but you actually had, or believed that you had consent from the person who’s information you were using. One element of this crime requires lack of consent and absent that, the prosecution would not have met their burden of proof. Further, was the act intentional? If not, then there was no willfully act of obtaining and illegally using the information.

Cyber Stalking

Cyber stalking is much the same as stalking but with the use of a computer. Using social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are used to harass because it is easy to access other people’s information and post harassing or threatening messages.

So what does it mean to harass or threaten? Penal Code Section 646.9 states that there must be intent to cause the victim to fear for his or her own safety. It is defined as “An intentional course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously annoys, alarms, torments, or terrorizes without any legitimate purpose to justify it.”

A couple of defenses to this charge might be that the threats would not make a reasonable person fear for their life or that the threats were not credible. Further, there is the First Amendment right to free speech. Your attorney should be aware whether or not the conduct comes under the protected activities of the amendment.

Illegal Downloading

Downloading copyrighted materials like movies and music without paying for them is a crime, and there are laws that will not only impose civil liabilities but also harsh criminal penalties.

Impersonation

It is a misdemeanor offense to knowingly, without consent, impersonate another online or through any other electronic means.

Orange County California, together with the FBI, has officially opened the first Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Orange. According to authorities, just about every crime these days involves analyzing technology of some kind.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris has announced the creation of the state's first eCrime Unit. The eCrime Unit will focus on going after criminals involved in identify theft, Internet fraud, computer and electronic theft, intellectual property crimes, such as counterfeiting and piracy, and child exploitation. California has the highest identity theft rate in the Country, with over 1 million reported crimes each year. The eCrime Unit will focus their efforts solely on cyber crime.

Cyber crime is extremely difficult to prosecute for several reasons. These types of crimes are typically committed with no witnesses, no DNA, and these individuals are becoming more sophisticated, making it difficult for them to be tracked. Until now, law enforcement lacked the technological knowledge needed to investigate. But with the creation of the eCrime Unit, along with the Orange County Regional Computer Forensic Lab, tracking down and arresting individuals suspected of Internet and/or cyber crimes in Orange County, will be more efficient and much quicker than in the past.

No matter what type of cyber or internet crime a person faces, an experienced criminal defense attorney, specializing in cyber crimes, is necessary to ensure that a person's rights have not been violated, as well as having a better understanding of what is necessary for the prosecution to be successful.

If you would like to know more about cyper or internet crimes, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.