Crimes that involve a computer, known as “cybercrime,” include offenses related to information technology infrastructure. These crimes can range from hacking to forgery and data interference, with some crimes resembling high-tech theft. Not all cybercrimes are intended to result in financial gain, as some acts include exchange of child pornography and copyright infringement. Local, state, and federal law enforcement often conduct internet sting operations in order to locate those who may be engaged in cybercrimes. These operations take place in different ways, and often target individuals involved in sex-related criminal offenses. At the Law Office of John W. Noonan, we aim to set forth strong legal defenses that protect our clients by seeking to have their charges dismissed or reduced. Drawing on more than 55 years of experience by Dublin cybercrime lawyer John W. Noonan, our office understands the changing nature of criminal law as it relates to internet stings and cybercrimes. With offices in Dublin and Manteca, we are here to handle your case from initial investigation through the final stages of negotiation, and if needed, litigation.The Prosecution Must Prove All Elements of Cybercrime Charges
California criminalizes computer-related conduct that affects the use or functionality of computers, their data, and networks. State law is intended to protect computer systems and networks that include individuals, as well as businesses and organizations. California Penal Code section 502 specifically sets forth the intent of the legislature to protect people from damage and unauthorized access to computer data and their system. The internet spreads information across state lines, and as a result, federal agencies often investigate cybercrimes as well.
When an individual uses a computer or a network to disrupt, delete, destroy, or alter that network or computer, they may be charged with a cybercrime. In most cases, the defendant’s purpose behind their use dictates the specific crime that will be charged. For example, the prosecutor would need to show that the defendant wanted to commit fraud, or take control of money or property that did not belong to them. Misusing devices or interfering with data are different criminal activities than hacking or invasion of privacy.
For crimes set forth in Penal Code section 502, the prosecutor is required to prove the “knowingly” element of the computer-related act. A defendant that accidentally performed the alleged crime may not be held liable. Additionally, for specified cybercrimes according to section 502, the prosecution is required to show that the defendant acted without authorization or permission. If the activity was performed within the scope of the employment, or as a duty or task necessary to complete work, the defendant may have a strong defense.
Penalties for cybercrimes typically lead to imprisonment, fines, or both. Fines can range from $1,000 to $10,000. Certain cybercrimes are punished as felonies, with prison terms ranging from 16 months to three years. California law allows for courts to mandate community service or other alternative sentencing, but the defendant would be required to show the court that they were remorseful, and unlikely to commit future crimes. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can help you explore alternative sentencing options that may be available to you.Setting Forth a Legal Defense Following an Internet Sting
Internet sting operations refer to tools used by law enforcement to resolve the alleged commission of illegal acts. Internet stings are well-developed investigations orchestrated by the police. In many situations, undercover officers will bait a criminal to accept an officer into the criminal operation in order to then arrest that individual. For example, officers may pose as an underage minor in an online chat room in order to lure an individual into committing an online sex crime. Internet sting operations require adherance to specific procedures, and the evidence required to convict an individual of a charge must be carefully documented.
Entrapment is a strong defense to allegations of criminal activity. California defines entrapment as crimes that result from pressure by law enforcement. This legal defense rests upon the theory that the defendant would not have committed the crime of their own accord, but was led to commit the crime due to flattery, threat, and intense pressure. Establishing that the defendant felt pressure may be shown through an unwillingness to comply with the law enforcement’s scheme, or lack of attempt to work toward the illegal act. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assess whether this defense applies in your case.Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Cybercrime Lawyer in Dublin
Former prosecutor John W. Noonan is prepared to advocate for clients facing cybercrime charges or accusations following an internet sting operation. If you or someone close to you is under investigation or has been charged with a cybercrime or other offense, our office can potentially help. Mr. Noonan represents clients and their families throughout the Tri-Valley area and the East Bay, including Stockton, Dublin, Hayward, Manteca, and Fremont. To schedule your free consultation, call our office at (925) 807-7077 or contact us by filling out our online form.