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Cyber Crimes

The internet has made our lives much easier. With a few clicks of a mouse, we can make business better, find information on nearly anything, and communicate with people across the globe in real time. The internet has also opened the door for specific types of crime, formally referred to as cybercrime but less formally sometimes called computer crime or internet crime. A cybercrime charge is a serious offense that can carry stiff penalties. While it isn’t always easy to identify a computer crime, local and federal law enforcement have highly advanced technology that allows them to locate individuals they suspect are involved in illegal activity on the internet. A cybercrime conviction can carry a lengthy jail sentence, ruining your reputation, your career, and your life.

Experience and Skill Representing Individuals Accused of Cybercrime Offenses

If you have been arrested for a cybercrime or if you are under suspicion for alleged illegal computer activity, you need the facts and you need legal representation that you can trust. You need The Litvak Law Firm. Cybercrime defense attorney Igor Litvak has represented clients in some of the most high-profile cases in US history. Several of these cases had international ties. Some of more notable cybercrime cases include:

USA v Smilianets – Newark, NJ – Lead Counsel

The largest cybercrime case ever prosecuted in the United States. The hack allegedly involved 160 million credit and debit cards and totaled more than $300 million dollars. It involved major American financial institutions, including Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, 7-Eleven, France's Carrefour SA, JC Penney Co, JetBlue Airways Corp, a Visa Inc licensee, and Heartland Payment Systems.

USA v Seleznev – Seattle, WA – Lead Counsel

One of the biggest federal cybercrime cases ever prosecuted in the US. In 2014, Mr. Seleznev, son of a prominent Russian politician, was arrested by US Secret Service agents in Maldives and brought to the US without an extradition process. The manner of arrest, which many compared to extrajudicial rendition, made headlines around the world, Mr. Seleznev was given the longest sentence in history for a cybercrime offense, 27 years. The case is currently on appeal.

USA v Shalon – New York, NY – Co - Counsel

The largest theft of customer data from a United States financial institution. The case involves hacking of identities of 100 million people from JP Morgan and other financial institution.

Cybercrime Definition

In simple terms, a cybercrime is any offense in which a computer and network are involved. Many misconceptions surround this type of criminal activity, including the notion that it is only a cybercrime if a computer is used in the commission of the act. However, that is not entirely accurate. If the computer is the target, the offense can also be classified as a cybercrime. To put it simply, any internet crime qualifies for that classification. Various cybercrimes carry different penalties and can be prosecuted under state as well federal laws.

U.S. Federal Cybercrime Laws

Cybercrimes are subject to both federal and state laws. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act defines cybercrimes as federal offenses. Federal cybercrime identification and sentencing are detailed under this act.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)

The United States Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, also known as Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1030, is the federal anti-hacking law. The 1986 amendment to the 1984 Counterfeit Access Device and Abuse Act makes it illegal to intentionally access a computer if you do not have authorization or if your access of the computer exceeds the authorization that was given. The Act has undergone several amendments to include such offenses as identity theft.

National Information Infrastructure Act (NIIA)

In 1996 the National Information Infrastructure Act as passed, furthering the reach of the CFAA to include “unauthorized access to a protected computer in excess of the parties’ authorization.” Prior to this change, the action was only a crime under CFAA if the individual had done so for commercial gain. Under the NIIA it is illegal to even look at information that is on a computer if you do not have authorization to do so.

Types of Federal Cybercrimes

Under the CFAA, there are seven activities related to computers that are defined as criminal:

1030(a)(1)

the unauthorized access of a computer to obtain national security information with an intent to harm the United States or for the benefit of a foreign nation

 

1030(a)(2)

the unauthorized access of a computer to obtain protected financial or credit information

 

1030(a)(3)

the unauthorized access of a computer used by the federal government

 

1030(a)(4)

the unauthorized access to a protected computer with the intent to defraud

 

1030(a)(5)

intentionally damaging a protected computer

 

1030(a)(6)

the fraudulent trafficking in computer passwords and any other information which can be used to gain access to a protected computer

 

1030(a)(7)

threatening a protected computer with the intent of extorting money or something else of value

A “protected computer” under 1030(a)(7) refers to a computer in use by the United States Government, by a financial institution, or used in foreign or interstate commerce or communication.

Federal Cybercrime Sentencing

The United States Sentencing Guidelines provide guidance on the penalties for federal cybercrimes. The guidelines are not mandatory, rather they act as an advisory reference for sentencing. It is a complex system that uses a Base Offense Level for crimes according to federal statute, then advise penalty increases based on the financial loss to the victim or victims. Depending on the amount of loss and crime committed, a cybercriminal could face more than 20 years in prison.

Types of Cybercrime Under New York Law

Article 156 of New York Penal Law lists several different types of cybercrimes that range from misdemeanors to very serious felonies. Several of the charges cite dollar amounts in damages. Many people may not realize it, but cybercrime can result in very high dollar damages. According to recent cybercrime statistics, a data breach in the U.S. costs an average of $220 per record stolen. When millions of records are affected, the cost become substantial in a short time.

Some common types of cybercrimes include:

NY Penal Law

Type

Classification

Description

156.05

Unauthorized Use of a Computer

Class A Misdemeanor

When an individual knowingly uses, causes to be used, or accesses a computer, computer

service, or computer network without authorization.

 

156.10

Computer Trespass

Class E Felony

When an individual knowingly uses, causes to be used, or accesses a computer, computer service, or computer network without authorization and:

1. Does so with an intent to commit or attempt to commit or

further the commission of any felony; or

2. Knowingly gains access to computer material.

 

156.20

Computer Tampering in the Fourth Degree

Class A Misdemeanor

When an individual causes to be used, or accesses a computer, computer service, or computer network without authorization and intentionally alters in any manner or destroys computer data or a computer program of another person.

 

156.25

Computer Tampering in the Third Degree

Class E Felony

When an individual commits the crime of computer tampering in the fourth degree and:

1. Has intent to commit, attempt to commit, or commits a felony; or

2. Has been previously convicted of a computer crime; or

3. Intentionally alters or destroys computer material; or

4. Intentionally alters or destroys computer data or a computer program, causing damage that exceeds $1,000.

 

156.26

Computer Tampering in the Second Degree

Class D Felony

When an individual commits computer tampering in the fourth degree and intentionally destroys or alters:

1. Computer data or a computer program, causing damages that exceed $3,000; or

2. Computer material that contains medical records (history, treatment, etc.) of an identifiable individual resulting an individual suffering serious physical injury, of which the defendant was aware of the risk and consciously disregarded it.

 

156.27

Computer Tampering in the First Degree

Class C Felony

When an individual commits the crime of computer tampering in the fourth degree and intentionally alters or destroys computer data or a

computer program causing damages that exceed $50,000.

 

Other types of cybercrimes as described under New York law include the illegal downloading of copyrighted material (piracy), malicious software, cyber stalking, child pornography, and identity theft. Your attorney can explain your rights as well as the details of any of these types of cases.

Penalties for Cybercrime in New York

Under New York State Penal Law Articles 70 and 80, the penalties for cybercrime convictions may include a fine, prison time, or both. There are many factors that the judge will consider when deciding a sentence. If the defendant has been charged with cybercrimes previously or if they have any criminal charges it can have a significant impact, especially if those convictions included violent felonies, persistent felonies, or persistent violent felonies. Also, the judge will take into consideration who the victim is and the impact of the crime. Whether or not the defendant receives the maximum penalties for a computer crime are left to the discretion of the judge. 

Classification

Maximum Fine

Maximum Sentence

Class B Felony

$5,000 or double the amount that the defendant gained from the crime.

 

25 years

Class C Felony

$5,000 or double the amount that the defendant gained from the crime.

 

15 years

Class D Felony

$5,000 or double the amount that the defendant gained from the crime.

 

7 years

Class E Felony

$5,000 or double the amount that the defendant gained from the crime.

 

4 years

Class A Misdemeanor

$1,000

 

1 year

Class B Misdemeanor

$500

 

3 months

 

Cybercrime Defenses

Cybercrimes are often serious, resulting in long prison sentences as well as hefty fines. Your attorney will present a defense in an effort to keep your penalties as low as possible or even to get the charges thrown out. To accomplish this, the attorney must show reasonable grounds to believe that:

  • The defendant had lack of knowledge – Many cybercrimes, like computer tampering and internet fraud, are hinged on the defendant’s knowledge that what they were doing was wrong and that they intentionally committed the acts. In some cases, the defense may claim they did not know that they were committing a crime because they thought they were dealing with legitimate software, forms, etc. and were not aware they were fake or fraudulent.
  • The defendant had authorization – The defendant may be able to show that they were authorized to access the computer or the information and alter or destroy it.
  • The defendant was within his or her rights – If the defendant was fully within his or her legal rights to reproduce or copy the software or data, then the charges cannot stand.
  • The defendant was coerced – If the defendant was forced to commit the cybercrime, or they did it because someone was threatening them or a loved one, they could use that as a defense.

If you’ve been charged with a cybercrime, you need an attorney who has the education and experience to represent you and ensure that your rights are protected. At the Litvak Law Firm our clients are our first priority. We will support you every step of the way: arraignments, motions, trials, and appeals - we handle all aspects of criminal cases. Our proven track record of successful cases speaks for itself. Let us put our experience and reputation to work for you. Call today for your free phone consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don’t leave your future to chance, call (718) 929-2908 today.



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