The soaring use of computers and mobile phones comes with the risk of cybercrimes. Laws of the United States and the State of California have provisions that criminalize certain computer-related activities.

Unfortunately, many innocent people have been accused and penalized for cyber crimes they did not commit. For instance, someone else might have used your computer, network, or identity to commit fraud.

The penalties awaiting accused persons if convicted can be life-changing. They can come through the federal or the state system, but both are harsh. An Orange County criminal defense lawyer can inform you about the worst possible outcomes and fight for better ones on your behalf.

What Activities Qualify as Cyber Crime in California?

California has laws that seek to protect the computer networks, computer systems, and computers belonging to organizations, businesses, and individuals. Persons are forbidden from engaging in activities that affect the confidentiality, use, and functionality of networks, data, systems, and computers.

Some of the activities that amount to cybercrime in California include:

  • Child pornography
  • Electronic harassing
  • Extortion/ blackmail
  • Drug trafficking
  • Theft of intellectual property
  • Theft of sensitive data
  • Tax refund fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Phishing
  • Hacking

What Must Be Fulfilled for the Federal Crime of Internet Fraud?

Internet crimes can also be prosecuted under Federal law. Schemes to get money from people through pretense are often charged and prosecuted in the federal courts. However, the prosecution has to prove that you:

  • Used electronic communication to further the scheme
  • Had intentions to defraud someone
  • Had a plan or scheme to commit fraud

However, note that you need not have successfully defrauded someone to be charged and convicted. The attempt alone is sufficient.

What are the Federal Penalties for Internet Fraud?

Internet fraud is a serious crime that is punished heavily under federal law. The prosecution needs to provide evidence showing that your actions fulfill all the elements of an internet crime.

If you are found guilty, you risk:

  • Hefty fines
  • Up to 20 years in federal prison
  • Fines and imprisonment

But such worst possible outcomes might not occur if you invest in proper defense. For example, an Orange County internet crime lawyer can find faults in the prosecution’s case and find ways to challenge it before a judge.

What Determines the Seriousness of Cyber Crimes in California?

It might be impossible to beat cybercrime charges, especially when all the evidence implicates you. In such cases, you can only fight for the least possible sentencing. The judge usually possesses the discretion to either give you the severest possible punishment or the least possible penalties. They might consider:

  • Whether you have prior convictions
  • Your specific behavior, e.g., whether your actions were for personal gratification or commercial gain

Your Orange County internet crime lawyer can convince the judge that you deserve a more lenient sentence. The lesser the sentence, the better for you.

What are the Penalties for Unauthorized Computer Use or Access?

Unlawfully accessing a computer system, whether in a simple or sophisticated way, is outlawed in California. You may also have legal access, but you might be charged for doing the following without permission:

  • Deleting data
  • Destroying data
  • Damaging data
  • Altering data
  • Taking or copying data
  • Adding data
  • Providing someone else with the means of accessing computer data
  • Introducing a computer contaminant
  • Using their internet domain to send damaging emails

The penalties for such offenses include:

  • Imprisonment for 16 months, one year, two years, or three years
  • Fines of $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000
  • Both fines and imprisonment

The exact penalties vary depending on the exact offense. Talk to an Orange County internet crime lawyer to find out the possibilities of your case.

Is Unauthorized Use Exceptional in the Scope of Employment?

The “unauthorized access and use” offense gets many people who have ever had an office job a bit nervous. If you have ever copied some work in your flash drive to work on it from home. This might sound like “taking, copying, or using data” without permission.

Luckily, you might be exempted from these charges if you did it in the scope of employment. Even if the employer would disapprove of it, doing what is necessary to perform your job is exempted from punishment in California and can be used as a defense.

Are There Federal Punishments for Unauthorized Access?

Unauthorized access to a computer, system or network can be charged at the state and federal levels. In addition, offenders can be charged, especially if the afflicted party is the U.S. government, a bank, or any commercial entity.

Your motive for access has to be criminal, fraudulent or obtaining something of value. Penalties include:

  • Five years imprisonment for first and attempted offenses
  • Ten years for second and subsequent offenses
  • Fines for the attempted, first time, a second time, and subsequent offenses

How Can an Attorney Protect Me From Cyber Crime Penalties?

Cybercrimes can attract severe penalties at all levels. But you cannot be convicted until the prosecution convinces the judge that you are indeed guilty. So the role of an attorney is usually to defend you and protect your rights at all costs.

Most attorneys offer free consultation services if you approach them for the first time. During the session, you can discuss the details of your case and talk about your side of the story. After that, they might inform you of the possibilities of your case and build up a good defense.

Attorney Skillfully Defending Clients in Southern California

If you have been charged for cybercrime in California, the penalties can affect your employment prospects significantly. It might be difficult for employers to hire you with such an offense in your records later.

But if you invest in an award-winning defense team, you might get better outcomes for your case. This takes deep knowledge of cybercrime laws and experience handling similar matters in California’s corridors of justice. Talk to us today for aggressive representation.