FEDERAL COMPUTER HACKING ATTORNEY ORANGE COUNTY CA
The crime of computer hacking involves illegally accessing a government, business or personal computer with the intent to cause harm, commit fraud or obtain anything of value, and this criminal offense can be prosecuted at both the state and federal level. A conviction for the crime of computer hacking can result in a significant federal prison sentence – possibly up to 10 or 20 years – and the consequences of such a conviction can follow you for the rest of your life, potentially affecting your personal relationships and future employment opportunities, among other aspects of your life. If you have been charged with or are under investigation for federal computer hacking, contact our Orange County criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group to schedule a free confidential consultation. Our legal team has a great deal of experience defending clients against cybercrime offenses and we will fight to protect your rights, from the moment we are hired to the conclusion of your case.
Affordable Computer Hacking Defense Attorney
Federal computer hacking cases can be complex and confusing, and individuals facing cybercrime charges need a lawyer in their corner who not only understands the intricacies of federal law, but one who is also familiar with the technical nature of computer systems and electronic communications. Our defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group have more than 60 years of combined criminal defense experience, and we have a clear understanding of federal and California state criminal law and how it applies to your computer hacking case. We are committed to protecting the rights of the criminally accused throughout the country, and we will do everything in our power to help you get the best possible outcome in your criminal case.
The federal government is on a mission to make an example of computer hackers and it is a good idea to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as you learn that you may be the target of a computer hacking investigation. If our defense attorneys get involved in your case early on, we may be able to step in before any formal cybercrime charges are filed and help prevent you from ever being arrested or prosecuted. Or, if you have already been charged with computer hacking, we may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to secure a more favorable plea deal carrying less severe penalties. We are committed to protecting your rights throughout the duration of your criminal case, and helping you avoid the adverse consequences of computer hacking charges, including, if necessary, representing you in court and at trial.
Federal Computer Hacking
The term “cybercrime” is an umbrella term that can be applied to a number of computer-related crimes investigated and punished at the state level in Orange County California, but there are certain factors that can result in federal charges being filed for computer hacking and other cyber crimes. Generally speaking, computer hacking is the act of illegally using a computer to access or attempt to access another computer without authorization, with the intent to cause harm, obtain information or commit fraud. This can include hacking a computer to gain access to someone else’s personal information, financial records or accounts, credit card information, proprietary business information, or U.S. government records.
One possible example of computer hacking in violation of federal law would be if an employee used his or her work computer to access confidential customer information, and then used that information to commit fraud or identity theft. Illegally gaining access to a computer in violation of federal law can be achieved in any number of ways, including sending emails with malicious attachments, releasing malware or malicious viruses, or logging into a computer in person. Even if you don’t actually follow through with illegally “hacking” a personal, business or government computer, you could still face federal charges for conspiracy to commit computer hacking, a crime occurring when any person attempts or conspires to unlawfully access a computer without authorization, for the purpose of obtaining information, causing damage to the computer, or acquiring something of value.
Federal Computer Hacking 18 U.S.C. § 1030
While there are a number of federal statutes that may apply to the prosecution of cybercrime in the United States, most federal prosecutors rely on a few specific laws when pursuing charges for computer-related crimes. The majority of federal computer hacking crimes are prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, or Section 1030 of Title 18, United States Code, which covers a wide range of illegal computer crimes. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1030, it is a federal crime to access a “protected” computer without “proper authorization,” to commit fraud or otherwise cause harm, and most people criminally prosecuted under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act are accused of the following offenses:
- Hacking a government computer
- Hacking a computer with the intent to steal something of value
- Hacking a personal or business computer with the intent to commit identity theft or to gain access to financial information
- Hacking a computer with the intent to cause damage or destroy files or information
- Attempting to hack a computer for any of these reasons, even if you are not successful
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was originally enacted to protect computers operated by the U.S. government and certain financial institutions, but the Act has expanded in scope over the years and the result is a federal law so broad that it can now be used to prosecute any person accused of illegally intruding on a government, personal or business computer for nearly any reason. According to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 1030, a “protected” computer is any computer that is connected to the Internet. This can include a computer that belongs to a government agency, a computer provided by an employer to an employee, a computer at the public library, or any other computer with access to the Internet. And to be charged with computer hacking under federal law, the person must have accessed the computer without authorization, or “exceeded authorization” by using the computer in an improper way.
Some other computer crimes related to federal computer hacking include conspiracy to commit computer hacking, criminal possession of computer-related material, unlawful duplication of computer-related material, unlawful distribution of large amounts of unsolicited commercial email (SPAM), and unlawful access to stored communications. Any person facing charges under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act could potentially face additional charges related to computer fraud, identity fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, counterfeiting, embezzlement or credit card fraud, depending on the circumstances of their case.
Penalties for a Federal Computer Hacking Conviction
Federal computer hacking can be charged and prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony crime, depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense, namely the motivation behind the misconduct and the extent of harm the misconduct causes. Even the act of simply seeking access to a protected computer connected to the Internet can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor crime under federal law. However, if someone hacks a protected computer for financial gain, to commit another crime, or to access information valued at more than $5,000, the offense will likely be prosecuted as a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. There are certain factors that can enhance the punishment resulting from a federal computer hacking conviction, namely if you are accused of unlawfully hacking a protected computer with the intent to commit another crime. For example, a defendant accused of computer hacking could face an additional prison sentence if, by hacking the computer, he or she knowingly took the identity of another person, thereby committing identity theft.
Federal Computer Hacking Defense
Internet crimes like computer hacking are treated extremely seriously by the federal government, and these offenses are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, facing federal charges for computer hacking is not the end of the world. If the federal government is building a computer hacking case against you, you still have rights and it is imperative that you act quickly to obtain legal counsel, so you can protect those rights. As with any criminal case, the burden of proof in a computer hacking case lies with the prosecution. That means, in order to get a conviction, the federal prosecutor will have to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If he or she is unable to do so, you cannot legally be convicted of federal computer hacking. The key element of the crime of computer hacking is intent; only if you knowingly and intentionally hacked a computer can you be found guilty of the federal offense.
Best Defense Strategies in Federal Computer Hacking Cases
The most common motives for hacking a computer are to obtain credit card numbers, personal information, passwords or other valuable information, to cause damage to the computer system for some reason, or to steal funds electronically from banks or other businesses, but there are some cases in which a person unintentionally accesses a computer system without authorization, or accesses data in a way that he or she does not realize constitutes computer hacking. If you are facing federal computer hacking charges, you need an experience criminal defense attorney on your side to prepare the strongest possible defense in your case. Some possible defenses in federal computer hacking cases include the following:
- You did not unlawfully access the computer in question
- You were authorized, or reasonably believed that you were authorized, to access the computer and copy, alter or reproduce the data in question
- You were falsely accused of computer hacking
- Your computer was used by another person
- Your computer has a virus that allowed others to access it
How Hiring a Computer Hacking Defense Attorney Can Help
The consequences of a conviction for computer hacking or conspiracy to commit computer hacking can be devastating for you and your loved ones, especially if the crime is prosecuted at the federal level. Any person charged with federal computer hacking faces a potential punishment consisting of significant fines and years in prison, and should therefore consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, preferably one with experience defending federal cyber crimes cases. At Seyb Law Group, we have earned a reputation for aggressively and skillfully defending clients under investigation for or charged with serious crimes like illegal computer hacking, and we will use every resource at our disposal to build the strongest possible defense in your case and challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you. Any time you are facing charges for a federal crime like computer hacking, there is a great deal at stake, including your future and your freedom. Fortunately, our legal team at Seyb Law Group has access to computer and forensic experts who can help to develop a strong defense in even the most complex federal computer crimes cases, and with our help, you can significantly improve your chances of getting the charges reduced to a lesser offense or possibly even dismissed altogether.
Contact Our Computer Hacking Defense Attorneys for Help
With the rise in the use of personal computers and the Internet over the past few decades, computer-related crimes, like computer hacking, have increased dramatically across the United States, and so too has the investigation and prosecution of these criminal offenses. If you are accused of violating federal law by illegally hacking a computer, and you are found guilty of the crime, you could face years in federal prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines, among other life-changing penalties. The federal government will use every resource available to build a strong case against you and it will take a knowledgeable and reputable criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and get the best possible outcome in your case. For more information about federal computer hacking law, or to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case, contact Seyb Law Group today.