Common Types of Computer Crimes

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The growth and advances in digital technology creates a whole new platform for criminal activity. Since the advancement of technology, any crime that involves using a computer or network is generally referred to as a cybercrime or computer crime. The penalties differ for each crime, depending on whether they violated state or federal laws. In general, they include fines, imprisonment, probation, or all the above.

Hacking

The computer crime hacking refers to the practice of gaining unauthorized access to another person’s computer, database, or network where private information can be stored. It is a felony in the U.S. to hack a computer system, whether it is a single personal computer or an organizational computer network.  However, not all types of “hacking” refer to crimes.  Some organizations perform “Ethical hacking” on their own systems or with permission to explore the systems of others to look for vulnerabilities. This is treated differently than “malicious hacking,” the act of entering someone’s computer without their knowledge to take data or leave viruses.

Piracy

Piracy is a computer crime that occurs when a person distributes copyrighted material without gaining permission from the original owner. The shared material can be different types of media, including music, software, movies, images, and books. There are many sharing websites that practice internet piracy by offering free, downloadable versions of products. In many jurisdictions, it is only the sharing of materials that is illegal, and being in receipt may not be illegal.  However, many peer-to-peer (p2p) systems require users to share material with others as it is being downloaded, resulting in a form of collaborative piracy.  The charges for piracy differ from case to case, so it is important to contact and attorney to assure that you are correctly informed about the laws regarding your specific situation.

Cyber Stalking/Harassment

The victim of cyber stalking is subjected to an excessive number of online messages, whether through social media, web forums, or email. It is common for the perpetrator to have real world contact with the victim but use the internet to stalk them instead of stalking them in the physical sense. It could progress into traditional stalking if the perpetrator feels they need to make more of an impact on their victim’s lives.

Identity theft

Identity theft in the world of computer crimes involves a form of hacking where the perpetrator accesses the victim’s sensitive information such as their Social Security Number (SSN), bank account information, or credit card numbers. They then use this information to spend their victim’s money for online shopping or simply to steal the money through fraudulent transfers.

Child Pornography/Abuse

This cybercrime can involve the perpetrator looking to create or distribute sexual images of children. In some cases, the accused seeks out minors on the internet, whether that be via social media or chatrooms with the objective of producing child pornography. The government monitors a large amount of chat rooms in hopes to reduce and prevent this type of exploitation, and also maintains databases of existing child pornographic content that may be shared. Convictions for these charges typically mean long prison sentences. It is important to contact an attorney in the case of any accusations of these crimes because the punishments are so severe.

Hacking Penalties in Nebraska

While many cybercrimes are federal in nature, there are also state penalties you may be subject to if you are charged of a cybercrime in the state of Nebraska. Each crime must be done in the “mental state” of intentionality for it to be prosecuted. There are no charges for simply attempting this crime in Nebraska, and civil lawsuits are not permitted. The classification of the crime depends on the severity and circumstances of the hacking.

Class I Misdemeanor Charges

If the hacking creates a public health or safety risk, then it will be classified as a class I misdemeanor. Any second or subsequent offenses of hacking to gain private information will be classified as a Class I Misdemeanor as well.

Class II Misdemeanor Charges

Hacking that compromises security data will be classified as a class II misdemeanor. Obtaining unauthorized access to a computer to gain private information is classified as Class II misdemeanor as well. Second or subsequent offenses of accessing beyond or without authorization is also charged as a Class II misdemeanor.

Class V Misdemeanor Charges

Access beyond authorization or without authorization is seen as a class V misdemeanor.

Class III Felony

If there is intent to obtain property or services, or deprive them and the value of these property or services by $1,000 or more, then it is classified as a class III felony. If there is access to a computer program and there is damage or disruption and the losses of this have a value of $1,000 or more, it is also a Class III Felony.

Class IV Felony

If there is hacking with aim to obtain property or services, or deprive them, it is a class IV felony. If there is access to a computer program and there is damage or disruption, and/or if the hacking causes a high risk of death, it is classified as a Class IV felony as well.

Defending a Cybercrime Charge

The convictions for cybercrimes carry heavy prison sentences and fines. If you are convicted of a cybercrime, you may even have your access to computer and the internet limited in the future. While a person gives up a certain amount of privacy when logging into digital technology, you still have certain privacy rights. Experienced attorneys can also help you fight your cybercrime charges, assisting you in preserving your rights and securing your future. If you or somebody you know is facing a cybercrime charge, contact our team of defense attorneys today.

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