Computer and internet crimes, also known as cybercrimes, refer to the illegal use of a computer or network. The computer may be the target of a crime, or be used in the commission of criminal activity such as identity theft, distribution of child pornography and copyright infringement. The term also encompasses netcrimes, or the criminal exploitation of networks on the internet (chat rooms, social media sites, email accounts, etc.).
In New Jersey, computer and internet crimes are investigated by the Cyber Crimes Unit (CCU), which specializes in areas such as computer intrusion, cyber terrorism, suspicious network traffic and data theft. The CCU also investigates large-scale security breaches within major corporations and government agencies. Digital evidence of the crime is gathered by detectives and analysts of the New Jersey Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory—one of the FBI's 13 regional laboratories. Involvement by the FBI has increased over the years as cybercrimes have grown in scope to include international financial scams, drug trafficking and attacks on government infrastructures.
Penalties for NJ Computer and Internet Crime Convictions
Those convicted of such high level crimes can be fined in excess of $100,000 and face a prison sentence of 20 years or more. A conviction will also result in a permanent criminal record, disqualifying the offender from most jobs, bank loans and apartment rentals.
However, even lower level NJ computer and internet crimes or internet hoaxes have serious consequences, which are considered state or federal level crimes. For instance, the hacking of the Associated Press' Twitter account led to the release of a false tweet about President Obama being injured during an attack on the White House. What may have seemed like a funny prank caused a 130 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial average, a $136 billion dollar loss from the S&P 500 Index, and temporary suspension of the Associated Press' Twitter account.
Tougher penalties for NJ computer and internet crimes are being sought by the Department of Justice. The House Judiciary Committee began circulating a bill in 2013 that would revise certain sections of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to elevate certain NJ computer and internet crimes to a form of racketeering. The committee also advised charging “whoever conspires to commit” a computer crime, meaning you can be charged for having knowledge of the crime even if you did not participate in the actual commission. The bill contains many other recommendations, such as elevating the violation of certain company terms to a felony and giving government entities more leeway in pursuing criminal forfeiture (the right of the state to take away private property that has been used in criminal activity). Although the bill has not been passed, law makers are continuing to propose tougher sentencing guidelines for NJ computer and internet crime offenders.
Contact an NJ Computer and Internet Crime Attorney Today
The wide-spread potential for damages makes NJ computer and internet crimes one of the most serious offenses you can be charged with. Since you are facing complex legal issues and the vast resources of the state and federal governments, you should retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Even if you are not convicted, merely being charged can cause you to lose your job and suffer the stigma of being a criminal suspect.
If you are being investigated for an NJ computer and internet crime, it is imperative that you discuss your rights and legal options with an experienced criminal attorney. The lawyers of Villani & DeLuca have extensive knowledge of all the legal issues pertaining to cybercrimes, such as copyright laws, privacy rights and illegal search and seizure. They have the needed resources and trial experience to fight your charges and protect your future. Call (732) 709-7757 to schedule a free consultation!