Computer crimes are pervasive crimes that can strike just about any person or any organization. These are significant crimes that carry significant penalties if an alleged offender is convicted. But they are also hard cases for the State of Illinois to take to trial. Just the same, they are difficult cases to defend.
If you have been charged with a computer crime in the State of Illinois, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced computer crime defense attorney immediately. At Dolci & Weiland, our attorneys have the experience and insight. We represent clients throughout DuPage County and Cook County and can meet with you to review your case and outline your options. Below is a brief overview of computer crimes, but to understand more about your specific case, contact our office today.
Understanding Computer Crimes in the Chicago Metro Area
Computer crimes, also often referred to as cybercrime or internet crime, are a range of crimes that are committed via computer or the internet. Typically, these crimes involve a person using a computer to access sensitive information without the required authorization to do so and then to use that information for his or her benefit.
Examples of computer crimes include things like hacking, phishing, email scams, ransomware, malware, and copyright infringement. Illinois Computer Crime Prevention Act makes these and other unauthorized computer use a state criminal offense. This statute breaks computer crimes into three main categories:
- Computer fraud;
- Computer tampering; and
- Aggravated computer tampering.
Computer fraud is governed by 720 ILCS 5/17-50. This section outlines the use of computers for the purpose of fraudulent activities. Fraud occurs when a person intentionally and knowingly deceives another person or organization to financially benefit him or herself.
A conviction of computer fraud can lead to serious penalties. The offense is a felony, and depending on the circumstances and value, the offense can be a:
- Class 4 when the value of the property, money, or services is $1,000 or less;
- Class 3 when the value of the property, money, or services is between $1,000 and $50,000; or
- Class 2 felony when the value of the property, money, or services is more than $50,000.
All persons convicted of computer fraud are subject to forfeiture of property, which can include financial accounts, vehicles, homes, jewelry, among many other valuable things.
Computer tampering is governed by 720 ILCS 5/17-51. Computer tampering in basic terms occurs when a person accesses a computer, network, system, program, or data without authorization from the owner, and through this access creates or distributes computer viruses.
A conviction of computer tampering is charged as a Class B misdemeanor or a class 4 felony, depending on the circumstances. Class 4 felonies are charged as a Class 3 felony for second or subsequent offenses. Plus, if there is an injury or a person otherwise suffers a loss via an offender's computer tampering, the victim is allowed compensation.
Aggravated Computer Tampering
Aggravated computer tampering is governed by 720 ILCS 5/17-52. Aggravated computer tampering is an offense that occurs when a person tampers with a state or local government services or operations with the intent to disrupt or creates a probability of death or grievous bodily injury.
A conviction of aggravated computer tampering is a Class 3 felony unless the act created a strong probability of bodily harm or death, then it is charged as a Class 2 felony.
Other Computer Crimes
The above crimes are not the only crimes committed via a computer or the internet. Computer crimes can involve other types of fraud, like credit card fraud, embezzlement, and identity theft.
Sex crimes are also committed via the computer or the internet, like but not limited to:
- revenge porn
- internet sex crimes
- child pornography
- solicitation of a minor
Understanding Federal Computer Crimes
Computer crimes are federal computer crimes when the crime crosses state lines. This is easily done via the internet. Several federal laws exist to define and outline penalties for federal computer crimes. The primary statute is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This act includes the following offenses:
- obtaining national security information (§ 1030(a)(1))
- accessing a computer and obtaining information (§ 1030(a)(2))
- trespassing in a government computer (§ 1030(a)(3))
- accessing to defraud and obtain value (§ 1030(a)(4))
- damaging a computer or information (§ 1030(a)(5))
- trafficking in passwords (§ 1030(a)(6))
- threatening to damage a computer (§ 1030(a)(7))
- attempt and conspiracy (§ 1030(b)).
Federal charges under this statute are charged as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances.
- If convicted of a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in prison, but aggravating circumstances can result in up to ten years in prison.
- If convicted of a felony, you face up to ten years in prison, and subsequent convictions carry up to 20 years in prison.
You will also be fined and may be ordered to pay restitution. Property may also be seized and forfeited.
Illinois Defenses Against Computer Crimes
Possible defenses exist against computer crimes. It all depends on the facts and circumstances. Defenses could include, for example, things like:
- Having authorization or reasonable grounds to believe you had authorization to access the computer, data, or other information obtained from the computer or computer system; or
- Having authorization or reasonable grounds to believe you had authorization to copy or reproduce data or software.
In other situations, you simply may not be guilty and your identity was mistaken, the facts may be wrong, or the offense was committed under duress.
What also matters in good computer crime defense is how the defense is put together and implemented. Having an experienced computer crime attorney will be key to your defense.
Contact an Experienced Computer Crimes Defense Attorney in the Chicago Metro Area Today
Computer crimes, internet crimes, cybercrimes, these have all become very sophisticated crimes. But as they have become more sophisticated, the government has put more resources into countering these crimes and uncovering suspects. When a person has allegedly committed a computer crime, the State of Illinois and the federal government will pursue the case aggressively and without mercy. A conviction can mean a harsh sentence.
To make sure you get the best defense possible, contact an experienced, resourceful computer crimes attorney today. We, at Dolci & Weiland, will use our resources to investigate and deliver a defense to make sure you get the best outcome under the circumstances. There are no guarantees except a guarantee to work hard and diligently. Contact us today to get started on your defense because the State already has started its case against you.