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What constitutes computer crime?

Computers and the internet have changed the world. As technologies improve, people here in Florida, across the nation and across the world spend more of their lives online. Back when Neil Armstrong famously set foot on the moon, it took a room of computers with less memory and computing power than the smartphone on which you may be reading this article.

Computer crimes weren't prevalent back then, but as computers got more powerful and smaller, law enforcement agencies from the federal government down had to become tech savvy in order to keep up with them. The creation of the internet made things even more interesting. Congress and state legislatures enacted new laws to cover as many potential bad acts when it comes to computers as well. So, what constitutes computer crime these days?

What makes an action a computer crime?

Some computer crimes are unique to computers (hacking) while others are the same, just perpetrated using a computer (fraud). When law enforcement officials accuse you of a computer crime, they are alleging you engaged in one of the following activities

  • Hacking or sabotaging a computer system
  • Cyberbullying
  • Viewing or exchanging child pornography
  • Accessing a computer system, network or stand-alone computer without permission
  • Using a computer to commit fraud
  • Using the internet to commit fraud
  • Tampering with or stealing data
  • Falsifying the origins of an email
  • Introducing a virus into a computer system
  • Soliciting a minor
  • Preying on minors
  • Trafficking humans
  • Invading someone's privacy

These are just some of the actions that fall under the umbrella of computer crimes. Just as there are many ways in which to use a computer, there are many ways to misuse a computer.

What happens if you face charges for computer crimes?

As soon as you discover that investigators suspect you of committing a computer crime, you may benefit from taking action to protect your rights. Just like with any other criminal offense, you retain your rights under the U.S. Constitution. Investigators and other officials must follow established procedures and not violate your rights.

You also retain the right to challenge any charges brought against you. Many defense options may be available to you depending on the circumstances. In order to understand what you face, you may want to thoroughly review any alleged evidence against you and the process by which it was obtained. It may help to enlist the aid of an attorney who understands the computing world and the internet since such understandings are crucial to building a defense in this area.

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