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The basics of cybercrime and serious criminal charges

This blog recently discussed what child pornography charges include and, because many of them involve the use of a computer, it can be useful to also understand what qualifies as a "cybercrime," which refers to a variety of online activities that may be criminal and do not all refer, certainly, to sex crimes. To begin with, some cybercrimes are unique to online activity, such as hacking, while others are common crimes committed using a computer, like larceny or fraud.

Different state computer crime laws make it a crime to engage in certain behaviors without authorization, including: improperly accessing a computer, computer system or computer network; modifying, damaging, using, disclosing, copying or taking programs or data; introducing a virus or other contaminant into a computer system; using encryption in aid of a crime; falsifying email source information; interfering with the computer use or access of someone else; or stealing information from a service provider.

Many cybercrimes involve the use of a computer and are fraud crimes. Fraud crimes are typically those that are intended to gain some type of value that does not belong to the party allegedly committing the fraud through deceit. Fraud crimes are serious crimes and can include criminal and other penalties, such as fines, incarceration or probation. Fraud crimes are typically charged as felony crimes, which are considered to be more serious crimes than misdemeanor criminal charges.

Fraud crimes have the potential to land an accused individual in jail and can create a criminal record, so it is essential for individuals accused of committing a crime involving fraud, or a cybercrime, which can also carry serious penalties and consequences for the accused individual, to be familiar with their criminal defense rights. Criminal defense rights serve as a protection for accused individuals between allegations made by authorities and serious penalties and consequences, which is why individuals accused of committing any crime should be familiar with what they are.

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