We spend much of our lives on computers of some sort (desktops, laptops, tablets, phones) and store vast amounts of private data on hard drives or in the cloud. Accordingly, law enforcement has put together teams specifically to investigate anyone who tries to access data not meant for their eyes. While advanced computer users may be able to identify the details of an incident through the jargon these teams use, most people—including judges and juries—have no idea what to make of computer crime.
If you’ve been accused of a computer crime, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, by the state or by the federal government. You need to make sure you have an experienced attorney by your side to help protect your rights.
Types of Cyber Crime
Computer crime in Tennessee falls under one of two main headers: fraud or access and disruption. Some of these crimes mirror analog charges (copying data that doesn’t belong to you is considered theft) while others are unique to the digital sphere. The five crimes that fall under the “access and disruption” umbrella are:
- Unauthorized access to any computer or network that is configured to disallow anonymous visitors
- Alteration or attempts to alter data or other computer contents, or to impede operation of any computer or network
- Introduction of a computer virus into any computer or network
- Unauthorized access, accessory to unauthorized access, or attempted access with the goal of disrupting security features
- Creation or accessory to creation of unauthorized copies of data, programs, or software
The law also addresses caveats to all five cases; anyone who knowingly interacts with data procured through unauthorized access or the tools used to collect that data may also be prosecuted. If any of these violations are connected to terrorism, the punishment may be extremely harsh.
Considering Intent and Knowledge
Tennessee law specifies that anyone who violates any of the above statues, or who tries to gain access to a computer or system they are not supposed to see, can be prosecuted. If you had no knowledge that you were privy to privileged information or that you were in a system with closed access, you may be able to defend yourself against claims. The same goes for an unwitting accessory, especially one who doesn’t know much about computers. As in many cases, intent is a major part of the criminal act.
What Happens After an Accusation?
Our local law enforcement officers may team up with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) or even the FBI to investigate potential cyber crime. If they feel they have enough data to prove your guilt, you may find yourself facing a charge ranging from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony.
The venue you will be charged in may depend on the accusation. The government’s computer crime statutes vary slightly from our state statutes; you could be brought to state or federal court (or both) depending on what you are accused of. Because the internet allows us to reach far beyond our locale, you could also be prosecuted in federal court if you are accused of criminal actions in more than one state (for instance, if you accessed a New York server from Tennessee).
A Strong Defense Against Cybercrime Accusations
Because cybercrime accusations are often very technical, it’s essential to work with an experienced defense attorney before your day in court. Most people don’t know enough to successfully challenge the evidence or processes in a cyber crime case.
At Andrew Farmer Law, our team brings on computer forensics professionals and highly knowledgeable investigators to analyze your case. You deserve a defense that not only fights hard to protect your rights, but also understands the charges against you on the deepest level possible.
Call Andrew Farmer Law at (865) 205-2637 or contact us online for a free consultation.