Computer fraud and Cyber Crimes in Ohio
We live in a technology-driven society. The Columbus criminal defense lawyers of Yavitch & Palmer will represent you with integrity and professionalism if you have been charged with a “cyber crime,” that is, computer or Internet crime.
With computers’ endless capabilities, the odds of your being wrongfully accused are higher than ever. Our white collar crime attorneys are well-versed in this type of law and we can help you effectively deal with this particular type of criminal charge.
What is computer and Internet fraud?
If you utilize a computer or the Internet to facilitate activities that violate the law, you are committing fraud.
Below are some examples of computer and Internet fraud.
- Attempt to physically destroy a computer
- Possession, distribution, or creation of internet and/or child pornography
- Infect a computer system with a virus
- Gain privileged access to a computer or network system – also known as hacking
- Change, use, share, duplicate or steal computer programs or information – includes stealing a company’s trade secrets, copyrighted music or films
- Prevent someone else from utilizing or accessing a computer
- Obtain illegal internet service – occurs when a computer hacker accesses online services belonging to someone else and utilizes them without paying, including online banking services and email accounts
Cyber Crime Penalties
The penalties for computer and Internet fraud can be extreme, ranging from hefty fines to lengthy jail sentences. The Columbus criminal defense lawyers practicing at Yavitch & Palmer Co., L.P.A. in Ohio have the legal know-how to examine your case and apprise you of the best course of legal action.
Fighting for the accused in a digital age
Anything you put on the Internet stays there forever, or so it is said. As a result, you need to be more careful than ever about what you post online, especially when emotions are running high. At Yavitch & Palmer Co., L.P.A., our attorneys understand just how quickly a wrong word or turn-of-phrase can be used against you and lead to an accusation of cyberstalking.
Determining the level of cyberstalking
Cyberstalking is prosecuted under Ohio Revised Code 2903.11 Menacing by Stalking or 2917.21(A) Telecommunications Harassment. These charges are serious, and they apply whether your conduct was sexually motivated or not. According to Ohio law someone who knowingly causes another person to believe that they will physically harm them or will cause them mental distress is guilty of menacing by stalking.
This includes messages posted through the Internet or other telecommunication devices, like phones or pagers. Based on this standard alone, cyberstalking is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. However, a wide variety of factors and situations can result in the charge being increased to felony status.
A stalking charge is increased to a fourth-degree felony if any of the following conditions exist.
- The person accused has previously been convicted of menacing by stalking or aggravated trespass
- The victim is a minor
- The offender has a history of violence towards the victim or another person
- The incident includes trespassing on the property where the victim lives, goes to school or their place of work
- The victim was already protected by court order
- There was property damage to the victims personal premises as a result of the incident
- The offense relates to the victim’s work at a children’s services agency
- The offender made a threat of physical harm against the victim or incited another person to do so
The consequences of a conviction
The charge can also be elevated to a felony if the defendant is in possession of a deadly weapon during the incident.
Any person found guilty of cyberstalking faces potential jail time and a fine. The maximum penalty depends on the level of the crime. Ohio law sets the penalties for cyberstalking crimes as follows:
- First-degree misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail
- Fourth-degree felony — Up to 18 months in jail
In addition, if the crime was found to be sexually motivated, a convicted cyberstalker may be required to register as a sex offender. Even at their most lenient, these penalties can be problematic, so it is in your best interest to work with an attorney who can defend you aggressively.
Call us if you’re facing cyberstalking charges in the Greater Columbus area
You can count on the attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer to represent your case in a positive light and to ensure that your side of the story is heard.
Call our downtown Columbus office at 614-224-6142 at any time. Evening and weekend appointments can be accommodated.