Knoxville Computer Crimes Defense Attorney
A FEDERAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER REPRESENTING THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS ACCUSED OF COMPUTER CRIMES
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Over the past 40 years, an almost completely new category of criminal law has arisen. Fifty years ago, there were no computer crimes. Now, the law regulates everything from password trafficking to computer trespassing. Entire divisions of the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office are dedicated to investigating and prosecuting federal computer crimes. You may have had no idea you were under investigation until you were arrested, or you may be the victim of I.P. or identity theft. Investigating computer crimes is not an exact science, and law enforcement often doesn’t possess direct evidence of your involvement. They may charge you based on the computer’s location and trick you into admitting ownership and use of the device. A few words from you may be the linchpin in a federal cybercrimes case.
Hiring an attorney who’s familiar with the ever-changing landscape of federal criminal computer law is essential to your defense. Federal defense attorneys who don’t understand the technical aspects of cyber investigations often can’t identify and present the best defense to your charges. The experienced Knoxville federal computer crimes defense attorneys at Barnes Law have the technical know-how needed to go head to head with federal computer crimes investigators. Schedule your free, confidential federal computer crimes defense consultation by calling us today at (865) 234-3409 or contacting us online immediately to maximize your defense.
THE CATEGORIES OF FEDERAL COMPUTER CRIMES
Many federal crimes involve computer use but are not categorized as “cybercrimes.” Viewing child pornography, for example, is a federal sexual offense with a potential sentencing enhancement for distributing material via an electronic median. While this involves a computer, it’s not necessarily a federal cybercrime. The following federal criminal offenses are among the most commonly charged federal computer crimes:
- Wire fraud,
- Identity theft,
- Illegal network and/or computer access (hacking),
- Password trafficking,
- Communication interference,
- CAM-SPAM crimes,
- Ransomware crimes, and
- Damaging computers or computer information.
Cyber crimes are often charged in conjunction with other serious federal offenses. You may face a superseding indictment after your computer is seized and searched pursuant to another investigation. In such cases, it’s important to schedule a joint consultation with a federal computer crimes attorney even if you’re otherwise represented.
OVERVIEW OF THE FEDERAL COMPUTER FRAUD AND ABUSE ACT (“CFAA”)
Cyber crimes are often charged pursuant to the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”). The CFAA applies to interference with federal computers, bank computers, and any computer connected to the internet; accordingly, it grants the federal courts jurisdiction over nearly all cybercrimes. The following seven categories of federal computer crimes are chargeable as federal offenses under the CFAA:
- Hacking a government computer,
- Hacking a computer and subsequently exposing financial, government, credit, or information stored on said computer.
- Damaging or threatening to damage a qualifying computer, which includes through the use of a computer virus, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, cyber terrorism, or time bombs.
- Fraud primarily facilitated through unauthorized computer access.
- Hacking and/or accessing a computer for the purpose of committing espionage (spying), and
Trafficking in passwords.
Attempting or conspiring to commit such offenses are also punishable, and this is a non-exhaustive list of possible federal cybercrimes. Further, every illegal cyber “transaction” is generally chargeable as a separate offense. That means if a defendant allegedly sent 1,000 fraudulent emails, that’s 1,000 possible felony charges. This is a highly contested area of federal law, and some federal defense attorneys will argue that such overcharging unfairly prejudices your defense.
DEFENSES TO FEDERAL COMPUTER CRIMES
The FBI has a highly rated team of cybercrime experts, but they are not attorneys and may make legal mistakes. Most federal cybercrime indictments involve multiple counts of computer-based offenses often resulting in thousands of individual documents and terabytes of data. Sometimes essential information was obtained illegally, which can “taint” the FBI’s investigation and the prosecution’s evidence. Your computer data is still private property, and the FBI generally needs a search warrant to access documents stored on a private system. There must be probable cause to obtain such, which means law enforcement can’t hack into your computer system in search of a qualifying crime. The following defenses may be available to federal computer charges:
- Lack of intent,
- Failure of proof,
- Investigator misconduct,
- Actual innocence, i.e., misuse of your computer,
- Statute of limitations,
- Constitutional violations, and
- Failure to meet the jurisdiction elements for federal charges.
Your cybercrimes defense attorney will review the individual facts of your case to determine the best potential defense. If after discovery it appears a conviction is likely, the experienced computer crimes defense lawyers at Barnes Law can help negotiate a beneficial plea deal.
WHISTLEBLOWERS, “HACKTIVISTS,” AND SUBSTANTIAL ASSISTANCE
Sometimes your computer crimes can’t be successfully defended in a court of law, but they may be defensible in the court of public opinion. Certain hackers technically break federal computer laws for the purpose of exposing illegal activity. Edward Snowden is an example of so-called “hacktivism.” The purpose and intent behind these technically criminal actions can have an impact on your sentence. A judge or jury may agree that these “whistleblower” actions were not undertaken for personal or financial gain. Further, many people charged with computer crimes have obtained information about illegal activities not otherwise known to investigators. Cooperating with the government can have a substantial impact on your sentence and plea bargain. Even federal minimum sentences can be reduced through cooperation.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED KNOXVILLE COMPUTER CRIMES DEFENSE LAWYER TODAY
Getting a federal CFAA defense attorney on your side early in the investigation process can make or break your case. If you suspect you’re being investigated for a computer crime, get our federal criminal defense attorneys involved immediately. They can ensure the government is operating within the confines of the law, work to exclude illegally obtained evidence, and may be able to negotiate a deal before charges are filed. Tell us your story by taking advantage of your free, confidential consultation with Knoxville federal cybercrimes defense attorney John Barnes. Call our office at (865) 234-3409 or contact us online today.
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