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Los Angeles Cybercrime Defense

Digital communication is an essential part of the world today. The internet allows people to quickly and easily connect with loved ones, conduct business, and seek out new information. Unfortunately, not every part of the internet is safe and secure. As the online world grows, cybercrime is growing along with it. It is important that perpetrators and potential victims understand the significant dangers of cybercrime. The Law Office of Stein & Markus can help you understand California cybercrime laws, whether you have been a victim or are facing a conviction.

What Is Cybercrime?

Cybercrime refers to any illegal actions carried out using computers or internet services. There are many different types of cybercrime and computer crimes, ranging from fraud to pornography. These crimes do not always have physical consequences for victims, but they can have a serious impact. This type of crime, regardless of the specific actions taken, can be particularly dangerous because it can begin anywhere in the world. It is important to understand what cybercrime is so that you can know how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

What Are the Most Common Cybercrimes?

As with any crime, there are many different types of cybercrime. Some of the most common forms of cybercrime are:

  • Identity Theft. Each year, millions of people across the world have their identities stolen. This typically entails a criminal accessing an individual’s private information and accounts for their own gain. In most cases, this is accomplished by finding that person’s social security number or other identifying information. They will then use it to make fraudulent purchases or interfere with their bank activity. This could also involve credit card and bank account information being stolen, which is often referred to as “account theft.” The various forms of identity theft not only harm victims by taking away their monetary resources, but they can also have a significant negative impact on important things such as their credit score and ability to maintain bank accounts.
  • Credit Card Fraud. As mentioned above, credit card fraud is a form of identity theft that occurs when an individual’s credit card or bank information is stolen. Once the information has been stolen, it is most often used to make fraudulent purchases or simply remove money from the connected accounts. There are many types of credit card fraud, but there are two primary forms. First is the full takeover of an account. This means that an individual’s account is hacked, and funds are used to make fraudulent purchases. The other type, which is more involved, is application fraud. This requires a criminal to use an individual’s personal information to open entirely new credit cards in their name and then run up significant charges. If left unchecked, this form of credit card fraud could cause severe damage to an individual’s credit score.
  • Insurance Fraud. This cybercrime has an immediate impact on insurance companies rather than an individual, but it can have negative consequences for a larger population over time. When an individual engages in insurance fraud, they file false insurance claims to receive payments that they are not entitled to. This could be connected with automobile accidents, major destructive events like fires, medical malpractice issues, and more. In some cases, referred to as “hard fraud,” a criminal will facilitate some destructive event to file their claim and get illegal compensation. Other, more common cases of insurance fraud involve a situation being blown out of proportion or falsely reported so that an individual may pay a lower insurance premium. These cybercrimes are dangerous because they can increase insurance costs for all users, not just the ones committing the crimes.
  • Hacking. This may be the cybercrime that people are most familiar with. It has its roots in the telephone systems of the 1950s but has adapted to the internet over time. This type of cybercrime most often impacts corporations or large organizations. When an individual is hacking, it means that they are attempting to gain access to the systems and information held within a computer network. Many individuals who partake in this activity are simply curious and do not have any malicious intent, but some hackers are intentionally criminal. This variety of cybercrime can be particularly dangerous because some hackers will attempt—and sometimes succeed—to gain access to computer networks that have national or international importance, such as those of government organizations or larger companies.
  • Phishing. This type of cybercrime often leads to something more serious. A phishing scheme involves individuals being contacted by someone posing as a legitimate organization or business seeking information. This most often happens through emails, but it could also be done with text messages or phone calls. When the individual provides the personal information that is requested, that information is then used to gain access to their private information. That could potentially lead to more severe cybercrimes, such as identity theft or fraud.
  • Online Sex Crimes. This form of cybercrime likely has the most severe impact on individuals. Most cybercrimes that fall under the umbrella of “sex crimes” involve pornography. While many forms of pornography are legal, there are many pornographic practices that are illegal, particularly when children are involved. Sexual cybercrimes involving children may include contacting a child online for sexual reasons, soliciting sexual favors from minors for money, or creating and distributing pornography involving children. These cybercrimes can have significant negative impacts on the victims, particularly because it is nearly impossible to fully remove the evidence from online spaces.

Any form of cybercrime may have dire consequences for both the perpetrator and the victim, depending on the circumstances. Regardless of the specifics of a cybercrime, it is important to know what California law states regarding these crimes to protect yourself or know how to move forward if you are facing cybercrime charges.

California Cybercrime Laws

The law that directly addresses cybercrime in California is Section 502 of the California Penal Code. This penal code declares that it is against the law to use a computer or a full computer system to commit a crime. This code is very broad and includes a wide array of crimes. Some examples of crimes that can be punished under Section 502 include fraud with the purpose of illegally obtaining money, introducing a virus into a system, taking unauthorized data from a computer system, and more. It is also important to note that many cybercrimes can also be prosecuted at the federal level, so certain crimes will carry a heavier penalty if they are tried in both state and federal courts.

Who Enforces Cybercrime Laws?

There are many different organizations and departments within the legal system that investigate and prosecute cybercrimes. Some individual towns or precincts will dedicate a task force to the job. This is a group of law enforcement officers who are specially selected to serve on an individualized team that gathers evidence and prosecutes cases regarding cybercrimes.

Large-scale cybercrimes in California are investigated by the eCrime Unit. This organization investigates cybercrimes, such as identity theft and intellectual property disputes, on a much larger scale. The cases they take on are typically for crimes that cost $50,000 or more. They are also responsible for assisting smaller towns with fewer resources, working with national teams to solve cybercrimes, and providing training for law enforcement and other organizations.

California Cybercrime Reporting

For individuals who have been the victim of a cybercrime to receive the attention and service they deserve, they must report the crime. There are several ways to accomplish this. On a local level, all computer crimes should be reported to the local police department or the local High Crimes Task Force, depending on the area you live in. If you have experienced cybercrime on a larger scale, then you should contact the California eCrime Unit for assistance. You may also get in touch with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Regardless of which agency is contacted, it is important to remember that they cannot protect citizens from these crimes if they are unaware of them.

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Penalties for a Cybercrime Conviction

The most common punishments for individuals convicted of computer crimes are a major fine, time spent in prison, or both. Fines can range from $1,000 to $10,000, while prison sentences can last from one year to three full years. If a single victim was significantly harmed by the actions of the person convicted, then they may also be required to pay the victim the equivalent of their loss or damages. This is a way to ensure that the victims of these crimes  receive the attention and compensation that they deserve.

How a Los Angeles Cybercrime Lawyer Can Help

If you have been charged with any type of cybercrime, working with the best legal representation is essential. An experienced and knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the legal system effectively and provide invaluable insight and resources. They can also work with you to build the best defense possible and fight for you in court.

Whether you have been charged with identity theft, sexual crimes, hacking, or any other cybercrime, the team at The Law Office of Stein & Markus can help. With over fifty years of combined experience, our team has the knowledge and expertise to defend you well. Contact us today to see how a California criminal defense attorney can assist you if you or a loved one have been accused of computer crimes.

Don’t hesitate to retain an attorney if you are under investigation or have been charged with a sex crime in California. Your freedom and your reputation must be protected right away. Reach out to The Law Office of Stein & Markus in Bellflower to get a free initial consultation. We can visit you in jail if necessary. Call (562) 512-7030 or contact us online today.

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