The age of technology has infiltrated every fiber of life. Computers, cell phones, and pads are always within arm’s reach. Most Americans do not go through the day without touching some type of computerized device with internet access. However, behind the screens is a breeding ground for criminal abuse of personal information and content.
Professional hackers have the knowledge to threaten computer systems that control big box stores, health care and government agencies, but there are smaller computer crimes committed every day, some of them are not premeditated or knowingly a crime.
Computer fraud is committed when data is not entered properly or correctly. Employees commit computer fraud when they incorrectly enter data or by accessing unauthorized areas within the system. Computer fraud is also committed when data is deleted or altered. Fraud is an intentional deception under the law, but with a few key strokes, financial records can be changed, employment records can be deleted, and customer records can be printed and used to commit other crimes, like identity theft.
Harassment can be less than criminal, but can cross a very narrow line when it reaches the level of cyber bullying, cyber stalking or on-line predator behavior. Social media, chat rooms, and text messaging are breeding grounds for angry and hateful remarks that focus on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or other groupings. These types of remarks can be threatening and terrifying to the recipient. Cyber threats are considered a crime of opportunity, since they can be committed without face-to-face contact.
The internet has become a new tool in drug dealing and trafficking. Many people have been too intimidated to profit from drugs in the past, but feel more protected by conducting deals on-line. The cyber drug trade can be a large complex operation or can be just a couple of people looking for their next fix.
The internet has also created many avenues for child pornography to be bought, sold, and viewed. In addition to child pornography, it is easy for pedophiles to lure children by pretending to be someone they are not.
Most of the computer crimes are classified as federal offenses because the cross state lines, and violate federal laws. However, Texas also has computer crime laws that can be violated. Computer crimes can range from Class A misdemeanors to felony charges depending on the severity of the crime.
There are many defenses to computer crimes, so retaining an experienced attorney is the key to having the penalties dropped or reduced. Some people act without realizing they have crossed the line when texting or chatting online. Technology can trace cyber crime to a computer or cell phone, but it cannot tell who was typing the offensive or sexually explicit comments. Some cyber crimes also include other actions that result in additional charges and higher penalties.
Retaining an attorney with criminal experience when faced with cyber crime charge is very important to make sure the rights of the accused are honored.