A Columbus Criminal Defense Lawyer Weighs in on Online Crime
Committing a crime behind a keyboard can still land you in jail
The anonymity of the Internet can lead many people to do and say things they never would dream of doing in person. Just look at the comments on any blog, posting board or YouTube video, and you’ll find an assortment of aggressive, filthy and threatening messages. Even trivial subjects like video game reviews or blogs about fashion tips still garner a comment section thick with angry hate speech.
When people are sitting behind a keyboard located hundreds of miles away from the group they’re arguing with, it can embolden them to be insulting, use racist or bigoted slurs, and even make death threats. Essentially, the presumed absence of any physical or legal repercussions can make a person feel invincible.
However, law enforcement is starting to take notice, and many people are finding out the hard way that their online actions have real-life consequences.
As the police and FBI get better at IP tracking and online investigations, arrests due to online crimes are increasing. Here are a few of the most common crimes people commit with the false assumption that they’ll be protected by the anonymity of the internet:
Piracy: If someone doesn’t want to pay for a movie, video game or ebook, they may decide to illegally download it for free online. However, movie studios and game creators have recently begun using some creative methods that can trick pirates into revealing themselves.
Cyberbullying/online threats: Using the Internet to insult or threaten someone appeals to those who want to lash out while avoiding a real-world altercation. However, cyberbullying, death threats, and terrorism threats are taken very seriously, and could lead to severe fines and jail time.
Hacking: Hacking is a broad term that’s used to describe the act of using code to break into a website, database or other online resource with the intent of stealing information, viewing private documents, or causing general chaos. And, while many hackers are fairly astute at covering their tracks, law enforcement is getting better at catching them when they make mistakes.
Selling and purchasing illegal items: Some people use the Internet as a means to access illegal items such as firearms, drugs or unlawful pornography. However, law enforcement is cracking down on these online black markets. In 2013, Silk Road, a deep-Web platform used primarily for selling drugs online, was seized and shut down by the FBI. This also led to several of its most notable users being arrested. When its successor rose up, it was also quickly brought down.
Self-incrimination via social media: Users forget that signing up to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and almost every other popular brand of social media, typically requires provide some personal details, such as your real name, address and phone number.
These details are kept on file, which means that if you take an illegal action, the police or FBI could issue a warrant for your information. Talking about drugs, bragging about a crime, or uploading pictures of incriminating evidence such as stolen property or firearms can all potentially result in an uncomfortable visit from law enforcement.
Accused of an online crime? Call a Columbus criminal defense lawyer
Despite the leaps in technology that law enforcement has made to track down Web criminals, the nature of the Internet still has some ambiguous loopholes and gray areas. That’s why, if you’ve been accused or arrested for committing a cyber crime, you need a qualified attorney to defend you in court.
At Yavitch & Palmer, we specialize in analyzing and defending clients who have been accused of using the internet to break the law. We’ll investigate every detail of your case and use any inaccuracies we find to get your charges reduced or dismissed.