Computer Crimes in San Diego
Fraud is a crime that consists of deceiving someone in order to induce that person to act in a way that is injurious to them. With the technological advances of the internet, fraud is no longer limited to in person, over the phone, or through the mail. Now fraud can be accomplished online! In response, California has enacted laws that are meant to protect computers, computer systems, and computer networks of individuals, businesses, and organizations. Computer crimes are offenses that involve cyber fraud. The internet component of computer crimes allows California and the federal government both to have jurisdiction over these offenses. This means that if you are facing charges for a computer crime you could be prosecuted by either California or the Federal government.
Understanding California Penal Code Section 502
California Penal Code section 502 penalizes many computer-related activities that impact the functionality, use, or confidentiality of computer data, computers, computer systems, and computer networks. California also penalizes the unauthorized taking or copying of data and information from a computer, computer system, or computer network. Any person who knowingly accesses a computer, computer system, or computer network and alters, disrupts, deletes, destroys, takes, copies, or changes any data to devise or execute a scheme to defraud, deceive or extort or wrongfully obtain money may be charged with a computer crime. The type of computer crime a person may be charged with will depend on the person’s purpose for unlawful access, whether it was to control or obtain money, property, or data.
Understanding Federal Wire Tap Fraud
Wire tap fraud consists of any online scheme that uses false pretenses to deceive another person in order to obtain money. You do not have to accomplish this goal in order to be charged for wire tap fraud, even if you were not successful in obtaining the money you could still face federal charges. In order to convict someone of federal wire tap fraud, the prosecution has to prove the following "elements" of the crime:
- You had a scheme, or plan, to commit fraud;
- You specifically intended to defraud someone;
- You used electronic means of communication in an effort to further the scheme.
Penalties for Computer Crimes
The punishment for cyber fraud depends on the jurisdiction, type of computer crime, the severity of the violation, the value of any losses suffered by the victim, and the defendant’s prior criminal history. There are varying sentences for computer crimes prosecuted by California and those prosecuted by the Federal government.
If you are convicted of internet fraud under the federal wire fraud statute, you can be fined, sentenced to up to twenty years in federal prison or both. Whereas if you are convicted of California computer crimes that involve unlawfully accessing, charging, or damaging a computer, computer system, or computer network may result in a fine, imprisonment, or both. The maximum fine required may range from $1,000 to $10,000. The term of imprisonment may be served in county jail or state prison and last for a term of one year, sixteen months, two years, or three years.
A court might also order compensatory damages to be paid to a victim who suffered damages or losses resulting from the computer crime. California law allows courts to require community service or to accept other forms of alternate sentencing. In order for a person to receive an alternate sentence, a defendant convicted of a computer crime would need to demonstrate remorse and show the court that future crimes are unlikely.
Related Offenses for Computer Crimes in San Diego
Credit Card Fraud
California Penal Code section 484(e) prohibits the selling, transferring, acquiring, or otherwise possessing the credit card or credit card information of another person without that other person's consent. Credit card fraud and auto insurance fraud become a cybercrime when a person shopping online places an order, pays a bill, or does online banking. The offense consists of altering an existing credit card, counterfeiting a fake card, or signing someone else's name in a credit card transaction without that person's consent.
California Penal Code section 530.5 prohibits unlawfully and intentionally acquiring and retaining possession of personal identifying information of another person. Identity theft becomes a cybercrime when a person has either gained access to a person's computer information or mail and uses the information to create a credit card, or another account, to get money or items that they are not entitled to.
How do you prove you are not guilty of a computer crime?
These are some of the criminal defenses that we can assert on your behalf to help you overcome charges for cyber crimes:
- Consent; you had permission to go online and access the information.
- Lack of intent to defraud; you did not have a scheme to commit fraud.
- Mistaken Identity; your own computer system was hacked when the offense occurred.
Your Best Defense against Computer Crime Charges in San Diego
Computer crimes are very technical in nature, but here at Monder Law Group, we know the ins and outs of cyber crimes and work with the leading experts on these cases. You need a San Diego criminal defense lawyer with vast experience handling fraud, whether it's cyber fraud or check fraud. Allow us the opportunity to show you what strategies we can apply to your particular circumstances to ensure the best outcome in your case.