NYC Computer Crimes Attorney
Representing a client accused of computer crimes, also known as cyber crimes, apart from mastering criminal defense skills, requires deep understanding, and comprehension of complex technology as well as knowledge of its possible misuses. Criminal defense attorneys at Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC have handled cyber crimes cases in state and federal courts of New York and around the country. Working together with the nation’s top digital forensic firms we deliver results in even the most complex cyber crimes matters.
What Is Cybercrime
Cybercrimes cover a wide range of computer related illegal activities. Despite the obvious implication, the cyber crime is not limited to computers only. According to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual, basically using almost any electronic device for illegal activities, no matter how simple or complicated can be considered in court as cyber crime.
Some types of cyber crimes are simply old-fashioned white collar crimes such as fraud, theft, and embezzlement perpetrated with the help of computers. But in recent years, as the technological capacity has grown, the number of specific technology-related crimes has significantly risen.
This led, in the past couple of years, to government agencies, such as the FBI and the US Attorneys to employ numerous specialists in the field of IT for investigation into various cyber crimes.
Federal Computer Crimes
All related activities that are considered to be a federal crime can be found in Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. ß 1030 (“CFAA”). It is the main federal criminal statute, created to prosecute people who stole data from computers. However, the courts have interpreted it to apply to many other types of crimes.
The CFAA also makes it a crime to extort someone by threats involving damage or illegal access to a computer. This means making threats to damage someone’s computer system or network unless money is paid. In a way, this is very similar to old-fashioned racketeering only perpetrated by means of a computer system. Examples of such extortion cases involve former employees who threaten to sabotage their former employer’s computer systems or hackers who stole sensitive information and demanded ransom.
The CFAA also protects computers owned by “financial institutions”, which include any institutions holding FDIC-insured deposits, Federal Reserve banks, and registered broker-dealers. Bank employees who access the bank’s software to steal data from customers to pass it on to others would be likely accused under the CFAA.
In order to establish an effective defense strategy, when a person is accused of unauthorized access, we need to define what makes such access unauthorized. One cornerstone of the CFAA prosecution is the fact that the defendant did not have access to the protected computer, and attacking such presumption can very well be a powerful course of actions for a legal defender.
The most common example of such defense is when an employee was fully authorized to access the computer but performed actions unrelated to work. While some courts will conclude that changing the intention in itself makes an accused loose authorization. But in other jurisdictions, any change of intention does not affect the legal status of “authorization”. This law can be interpreted differently, depending on the state you are in.
Prosecution of Employees
Our computer crimes defense lawyers represented a number of employees and former employees accused by their employers of misusing work computers for profit or revenge. In jurisdictions that have a broad interpretation of the meaning of “unauthorized” use, many types of regular business activities may be potentially criminal. If you are an employee accused of unauthorized use of a work computer, you need a cyber crime defense attorney who understands the CFAA related case law.
Penalties for CFAA Violations
If you are convicted under the CFAA, you face stiff criminal penalties including prison time, restitution payments, money forfeiture, being unable to use the Internet while on supervised release. As in all other federal cases, sentencing for cyber offenses is a complex issue and depends on numerous factors, which the court will consider.
Can You Be Deported For Cyber Crimes?
The CFAA conviction may have collateral consequences for non-citizens. This means that if you are convicted of a crime under the CFAA and you are not a US citizen, you may be deported.
Financial Computer Scams
The difference between cyber fraud and other types of fraud is that in order for a fraudulent activity to be considered cyber crime it needs to be perpetrated with the use of a computer system. Such crimes include but are not limited to unauthorized alteration of data or documents by using a computer system or network, altering or deleting output with the purpose to hide unauthorized transactions.
More often than not, these crimes occur in the context of bank fraud, tax fraud, identity theft and other.
Another very common examples of cyber fraud are Internet fraud scams, such as Nigerian letter fraud.
Cyberterrorism is an act of terror perpetrated by a computer. Making threatening and terroristic communications online would be a good example. Another example of cyberterrorism is hacking conducted in order to cause fear, panic, or in perpetration of violent crimes.
While many types of speech are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, certain types of offensive speech disseminated by computer could be criminal. Harassment, making certain threats, cyber bullying and cyber stalking could result in criminal charges.
New York Cyber Offenses
New York has computer crimes criminal statutes similar to the CFAA. Such criminal activities vary from misdemeanors, in which case the penalties range from a fine and up to one year of imprisonment, to felonies, with penalties that may reach from 3 to 15 years of jail time.
Hiring a Cyber Crime Defense Attorney
If you are charged with a cyber offense, you need the help of an experienced Internet crimes defense lawyer. You need a legal team of lawyers and digital forensic experts to navigate the complex maze of laws and evidence. You need professionals who will analyze this maze and find the way out. At Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC you will find such professionals. We work with the nation’s leading digital forensic experts and we have years of experience handling even the most complicated matters. Call us today to discuss your case.
Here are some of our representative cases in the area of cyber offenses:
- Our lawyers defended a software developer investigated for stealing proprietary software code from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
- We successfully represented a co-conspirator in an Internet based scheme that involved filing of fraudulent tax returns for more than $3 million.
- We defended an individual accused of accessing employer’s computer system and stealing sensitive information.
- We represented an NYC employee charged with accessing the government database without access and without the employer’s authorization.
- We represented an individual accused of making interstate threatening phone calls by using an email account.
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