Federal Cybercrime Charges

 Posted on December 23, 2023 in Federal Crimes

IL defense lawyerCybercrime is usually associated with using a computer or network system to carry out a number of criminal activities.

In 2022, there were more than 800,000 cybercrime complaints reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Since these offenses are a growing concern for our nation, the government typically imposes severe punishments for those individuals convicted of a cybercrime offense.

If you are facing federal cybercrime charges, do not hesitate to speak with a Chicago internet crimes lawyer to discuss potential next steps.

Federal Law on Cybercrime

With an increase in technology comes an increase in cybercrimes. Also known as “computer crimes,” cybercrimes have become more common in recent years as more sensitive information is stored online.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act “CFAA” (18 U.S.C.§ 1030) outlaws any activity that allows a person to access a computer system without prior authorization. It protects federal computers, bank computers, and computers with internet access from being used for fraudulent purposes.

CFAA specifically prohibits the following:

  • Computer trespassing or “hacking” of a government computer
  • “Hacking” that results in access to government, financial, credit, or other sensitive information
  • Damaging a government, bank, or other protected computer affecting interstate or foreign commerce
  • Accessing a protected computer without having authorized access with the intent to commit fraud. The act must affect interstate or foreign commerce.
  • Threatening to cause damage to a government, bank, or a computer used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce with the intent to extort money from another
  • Password trafficking, or the act of buying, selling, or sharing stolen passwords 
  • Accessing a computer to commit espionage

Overview of Cybercrime Offenses

If a cybercrime takes place between states or internationally, then the crime will usually be prosecuted on the federal level.

A cybercrime may include any of the following offenses:

  • Identity theft: Using another person’s personal information and other sensitive information to commit fraud
  • Hacking: Getting access to a protected computer without having the authority to do so. A protected computer can be any computer that is connected to the internet.
  • Cyber-extortion: Breaching digital security data systems through phishing (sending emails that appear to be from a reputable company requesting confidential information), ransomware (blocking access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid), or ransom demands (threatening emotional distress or harm to a targeted individual).
  • Cyber-espionage: Stealing classified information or intellectual property that pertains to corporate or government websites

You could potentially be charged with multiple cybercrimes. A Chicago internet crimes lawyer will be able to assess your situation to determine if you can potentially have charges reduced. 

Penalties Under 18 U.S.C. § 1030

If you have been charged with a crime under the CFAA, you may be facing time in prison. Federal sentencing guidelines will determine potential jail time. 

If you are a first-time offender, you can expect to spend up to 10 years in jail. If you are a second-time offender, you may be spending up to 20 years in jail. An aggravating circumstance, like if someone suffered bodily harm or death, could result in a life sentence.

Albeit, the authorities are not perfect and can make mistakes. Depending on the circumstances, the prosecution may dismiss the charges against you if there is insufficient evidence to convict you or if the police illegally searched your home. 

Contact a Chicago, IL, Internet Crimes Lawyer Today

Even a first-time conviction for a cybercrime can result in a prison term. If you are up against cybercrime charges, you need a Chicago, IL, internet crimes lawyer who can defend you. Contact Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney today online or by calling 312-629-0669 to schedule your free consultation. 

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