Internet crime is a broad category, since there are a variety of crimes that can be committed over the internet. Identity theft and computer hacking are two of the more common internet crimes.
The federal computer fraud law that most directly relates to internet crime is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), (18 U.S.C. 1030). The CFAA is a cybersecurity law which makes it a crime to steal information from or damage a protected computer system.
This law criminalizes various different types of harmful internet activity, such as:
- Intentionally accessing a government computer without prior authorization and changing how the government operates the computer;
- Knowingly accessing a "protected" computer with the intention to commit fraud and procuring something of value;
- Knowingly accessing a computer with no prior authorization for the purpose of procuring national security data, financial records of a financial institution, or information about a U.S. department or agency;
- Knowingly damaging a computer that causes a public health or safety threat, physical injury, damage to a government computer system, or at least $5,000 in losses to one or more people within a one-year period.
The penalties for conspiracy to violate, or for violations or attempted violations of the Act are:
- Imprisonment for no more than one year; and/or
- A fine of no more than $100,000 ($200,000 for organizations) for the first offense; and
- Imprisonment for no more than 10 years; and/or
- A fine of no more than $250,000 ($500,000 for organizations) for all subsequent convictions.
- Nevada Revised Statute205.463 criminalizes the fraudulent obtainment and use of personal identifying information of another person for any "unlawful purpose." Generally, there are two types of circumstances where individuals are charged with the crime of using another's personal identifying information for an “unlawful purpose”.
- Identity theft; and
- Delaying prosecution.
Of the two offenses, identity theft is considered more serious. In circumstances of identity theft, someone obtains and uses another's personal identifying information for any of the following unlawful purposes:
- To intentionally harm the person;
- To represent or impersonate the person to access private information;
- To obtain access to private records or communications; or
- To obtain credit.
Identity theft is a category B felony offense in Nevada. Those convicted of this offense could face anywhere from one to twenty years in prison.
Delay of prosecution involves situations where a person gives a false name to a police officer. It is generally a category C felony punishable by one to five years in prison. However, for this offense, an individual can receive a sentence of probation.
Individuals facing charges for internet crimes should contact us to discuss a legal defense strategy.