The internet has been around for a few decades now. In that time, it has found its way into just about every interaction, whether business, social, or otherwise. As a result, new laws have to be written that allows prosecutors to bring charges against those who act to harm others online. These charges are not limited to hacking bank accounts or committing identity theft by unlawfully obtaining someone else’s private information—some of these charges could be simple theft, fraud, or copyright infringement.
Are Internet Crimes Unique?
As the internet is not easily limited by physical location, any crimes committed through its use could leave the accused facing charges beyond their own state court system. For example, using the internet to misuse someone else’s personal or financial information puts you at risk of wire fraud charges—a federal crime with possible penalties of decades of prison time. While fraud is not a new crime, the punishments for a conviction can be enhanced if a person uses the internet to commit the act.
Most people are aware that it is illegal to open someone else’s mail without their permission, but if someone hacks another person’s email account in order to read their personal messages, they can face charges brought under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
Sex Crimes & the Internet
Probably the most notorious internet crime is the transmission of child pornography. When a person stores this illicit content on their computer, it could be found by police and lead to severe criminal penalties, including fines, no less than 10 years in prison, and a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender.
The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 was passed when widespread internet use was still in its infancy. Now that more people have access to instantaneous global communication, prosecutors must find new ways to interpret old laws in order to adapt.
Copyright Infringement Cases
Most people who use YouTube have at some point encountered copyright violations when a person uses another’s materials without their permission. In most instances, these are accidents made by people who don’t understand the basics of intellectual property. Sometimes, however, people will intentionally use the likeness of a popular logo or brand to trick others into giving up their property or unlawfully obtaining a free service. Examples include music or video streaming services that illegally distribute someone else’s content.
Defending against Internet Crime Charges
Because the laws surrounding internet crimes can be so dense and confusing, people often feel overwhelmed and hopeless. The good news is that while the workings of the internet may feel unfamiliar to us, law enforcement are still required to follow the proper procedures when obtaining evidence against a suspected internet criminal. In many cases, illegally seized evidence against a person must be thrown out. Hiring an experienced Sevierville internet crimes attorney can help you learn more about the laws and ensure you get the best chance at a favorable outcome. Schedule your consultation today.