Federal Internet Crimes Defense Lawyer
The internet has become the biggest tool for individuals, entities, businesses, and the government. The internet has also become a tool through which crimes, such as fraud, are committed. Internet crime has become common and as a result, Federal authorities have been heavily monitoring criminal activity occurring through the internet.
Internet crimes include such offenses as child pornography, identity theft, wire fraud, credit card fraud, illegal downloading, computer hacking, cyber stalking, and many others. Being charged with an internet crime is a federal offense and carries serious penalties. You may face prison time, probation, fines, restitution (to pay back any funds taken). If you are being charged with an internet crime you need an experienced defense attorney to defend your case.
What To Expect If your Computers are Seized in a Sex Crime Investigation?
I've had this happen many, many a time to my clients where the federal government comes in with a search warrant, takes all their computers, takes all their cell phones, any tablets that they have, other items, and then they will sit down with them and ask them questions about who owns these computers; who owns these phones and tablets to try and lock in, so if they find anything they can blame if all on that person.
They ask them other questions that are relevant to their investigation and then they leave. Now the person is left scratching their head. They usually have a piece of paper that shows exactly what the law enforcement agents took and they have a whole bunch of questions about what's going to happen next.
That's why we get you in the office and sit down and go over your particular scenario and then we can really get a game plan as to what's going to happen next and what you're going to do to defend yourself. But since we did put this out there, I'm going to give you a kind of a feel for what happens next.
They're going to forensically look into those computers and those phones. They have experts who can breakdown anything that's been deleted. They can breakdown anything that has any type of encryption on it or any other software that blocks law enforcement or anybody from getting to files. A lot of times people don't even have anything blocking. They've already downloaded child pornography for example and now the police just need to get their hands on it, confirm what it is and now they're going to deal with the case.
I Am Accused Of Putting A Sex Tape Of My Ex Online. Is That A Federal Offense?
Putting a sex tape of an ex-partner online falls into the category of revenge porn, which is illegal if posted without the other person's permission. If it can be proven that someone posted the images or video, then they could be prosecuted under the revenge porn statute. Federal agents do not usually get involved with these types of cases; state governments have special sex crime units that prosecute these types of crimes.
Since the technology for tracking posts online has improved, these charges are being brought much more frequently. Proving that a particular person posted content online involves locating the IP address of the individual's computer or device.
Someone Sent Me Pictures Of Child Pornography. Will I be Charged With A Federal Sex offense?
If someone has been sent child pornography or accidentally downloads child pornography, they shouldn't be charged with a federal offense. However, the difficulty is in proving why the pornography was sent to them and proving that they did not request it.
When people get in trouble for federal sex crimes associated with pornography, it is usually because they downloaded and saved it to their computer; this makes is very easy for federal agents to execute search warrants. Even if someone deletes pornography after having downloaded it, forensic experts working for federal agencies will be able to find evidence of it having been deleted, and they will be able to proceed with prosecution. If someone mistakenly receives child pornography and does not download or keep it on their computer, then they will have a good defense.
I Accidentally Accessed A Child Pornography Site. Could I Be Charged With A Federal Crime In This Case?
If it can be shown that a person accidentally accessed a site, then they will not get charged with a federal crime. However, if they downloaded or stored child pornography on their computer, then they will have a really hard time proving that they accidentally accessed it. People accidentally stumble onto things all the time; there are all sorts of spyware and viruses that can get on a person's computer and federal agents know this.
How Much Does Knowledge Of IT Come Into Play In Internet Sex Crime Cases?
In some cases, it's important to have a forensic expert examine the computers that have been seized in sex crime investigations. This is because people will claim that they mistakenly downloaded content, or there might otherwise be a question as to whether or not someone else sent content to an individual. The defense can also hire their own forensic expert in order to challenge the prosecution's expert.
What Are Some Cyber Crimes That May Be Charged Federally?
Computer crimes are becoming increasingly common but are still fairly new, and as such, the laws that apply to them are still being developed. Federal agents are the leading authorities in the investigation of computer crimes, whether these crimes involve stealing money from banks, credit card fraud, extortion, or sending fake emails. If a computer crime occurs across state lines, then federal agents automatically have jurisdiction over the case. The federal government is sophisticated and well-equipped with the best technology and a surplus of funds for the purposes of investigating and convicting people of cyber crimes.
The sentences for cyber crimes will depend on the amount of loss, the amount that the defendant attempted to steal, the defendant's prior criminal record, how many people were impacted by the perpetrator's actions, and the level of sophistication shown by the crime. If someone is being investigated for a computer crime, they should obtain an attorney, discuss all the details of the case, and begin devising the best strategy.
Consulting with an Experienced Defense Attorney
But it takes some times because these guys are stacked up with computers that they need to evaluate. I would say it takes anywhere from six months to a year in order for them to look into those devices. Not necessarily because it's so difficult or time consuming to look into the device, but because of the backlog of work that these forensic experts have to do.
What you can do in the meantime is hire an attorney. Let the attorney contact law enforcement. One of two things is going to be going on. Either law enforcement themselves — the FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security — are going to be handling the investigation and they're going to fully look at everything, put together a package for the prosecutors who the Assistant United States Attorney take it to them and have them deal with the case.
Or, sometimes, depending on the circumstances, the prosecutors will be involved from the beginning and they'll be the ones that are directing law enforcement as to what to do and getting the information as it comes in, coordinating and dealing with the investigators.
Either way, our defense attorney can contact the investigators, talk to them about what's going on, let them know that they represent you and let them know that they are there to answer any questions and to deal with any issues that might come up. This is very helpful because if you don't have an attorney what ends up happening is once they're done investigating everything, if they've got a case, they're just going to come out and arrest you no matter where you are and they're going to send you into the system.
Whereas, if you've got an attorney, a lot of times, not all the time — but I would say the great majority of the time — your attorney is going to be contacted and it's probably going to be the prosecutor who contacts him and there's going to be discussion about how the matter is going to be dealt with moving forward.
That's important. Because now your attorney can start to direct things — can start to see if there are any defenses that night be available to you and can make things easier for you where you're not just grabbed. A bond situation can be discussed and set up where you're going into court and everything is discussed, locked down and things go smoothly in court so you can get out of custody and deal with your case.
Negotiation with Federal Prosecutor
The bottom line is this. Get an attorney. Let the attorney handle things — as long as it's an attorney who has done these type of cases before, then you will be in a much stronger position to defend yourself and make things go smoothly.
Once you make the first appearance, it will be argued before the Judge as to what type of a bond, if any — sometimes you're looking at a mandatory minimum or a lot of time in custody, so the government is going to argue that you be detained, other times your attorney can work something out with the government, and still other terms, it's an argument in the courthouse to ultimately decide ‘the prosecutor argues one thing; defense attorney argues another; the court makes the final decision.
The next thing that's going to happen is you're going to be set into a Judge who is going to be in charge of our case. Your attorney is going to be given all the paperwork, any digital evidence and any type of evidence the government intends to use in the case against you and a lot of times the Judges will bring you into court and they'll make the government go over their case and give the defense an idea, give the court an idea of what they're intending to do, what type of evidence they have and then the case will move forward.
Your attorney is going to start making decisions on what type of motions might be able to be filed, whether a plea agreement should be reached or whether the case is going to be fought in a jury trial. So, get on it quick. Don't wait until the last minute. Don't bury your head in the sand. Get an attorney who knows what they're doing and can start making the moves that will make a difference for you moving forward in your federal criminal matter.
Contact Our Federal Criminal Lawyers
At Hedding Law Firm, our internet crime defense lawyers have the experience and knowledge of the federal system and its workings. Our law firm can and will effectively defend you. Our federal criminal lawyers ensure the protection of your rights from the beginning of your case all the way through jury trial. We may even be able to get alternative sentencing to prison, depending on the circumstances of your case.
We use computer experts to provide you with the best and most aggressive approach in defending your case. Contact our law firm for a free consultation if you have been charged with an internet crime.