As the Internet becomes more and more accessible in recreational and work use, the prevalence of Internet-related criminal charges has also risen. Keep reading today’s blog to learn more about the most common types of Internet crimes in New York and how you might defend against these charges.
Common Types of Internet Crimes in New York
Unauthorized Use of a Computer
The most common Internet-related offense is the unauthorized use of a computer, which is considered a Class A misdemeanor. An individual may be guilty of this crime if they knowingly use a machine or a system without authorization, and the computer or system they use is protected by password or another security feature.
The crime of computer tampering may be charged in several degrees depending on circumstances. Computer tampering in the fourth degree occurs when an individual uses a computer (even with permission) and intentionally alters or destroys data or a program of another person without permission to do so.
A computer tampering charge can be elevated to a Class E felony in the following circumstances:
- if the person has a further intent to commit any felony,
- if the person has been previously convicted of a cybercrime or theft of services crime, or
- the act of deleting computer material was deliberate or with the intent to cause damages for more than $1,000 dollars.
Further, computer tampering in the second degree, charged as a Class D felony, involves committing the crime of computer tampering in the fourth degree in addition to intentionally altering or destroying data or a program to cause damages for more than $3,000.
If an act causes more than $50,000 in damages, the person can be guilty of computer tampering in the first degree, a class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Even for lesser offenses like computer trespass, which is a Class E felony, a convicted individual may still face imprisonment of up to 4 years and a $5,000 fine. As a result, it is imperative to act quickly in the interest of your defense if you have been charged with a cybercrime.
Illegal Copying of Online Material
Under NY Penal Law 156.30, a person is guilty of unlawful duplication of computer-related material when they illegally copy or duplicate software or any program data causing owners economic damages of more than $2,500 or copying these materials with an intent to commit a felony. Unlawful duplication of computer-related material is charged as a class E felony.
Note that an individual does not have to illegally duplicate software to violate the statute; simple possession of stolen data may be a felony. For instance, under Section 156.35, a person is guilty of criminal possession of computer-related material when, having no right to do so, they knowingly possess a copy, reproduction, or duplicate of any data or program which was copied, reproduced, or duplicated in violation of section 156.30 with intent to benefit themselves or anyone other than the owner of the material.
Also called cyberbullying, cyber-harassment occurs when an individual repeatedly commits acts online that are intended to annoy another person. Cyberbullying can be more disruptive than face-to-face harassment, as the Internet provides a wider audience for abusive or humiliating posts, especially on social media sites, where anyone with Internet access can see rumors and other harmful information.
However, it is worth nothing that cyberbullies who exist online anonymously could be misidentified or wrongfully accused, as many hide behind anonymous or fake user accounts and profiles. If you have been wrongfully charged with cyberbullying, contact an experienced attorney immediately to defend against the unfair accusation.
Accessing Child Pornography
Under New York's child pornography statutes, the "sexual performance by a child" is defined as actual sexual activity performed by the child or otherwise lewd exhibition. The two laws dealing with the sexual performance of a child are:
- Possession of the Sexual Performance by a Child: if a person possesses images of a child younger than 16 years old engaged in sexual activity or "lewd exhibition”; includes photographs, books, periodicals, movies, and computer image files.
- Promoting the Sexual Performance by a Child: if a person transmits, sells, offers, trades, or otherwise provides images of a child younger than 17 years old engaged in sexual activity or "lewd exhibition"; most likely occurs via E-mail, posting images to computer bulletin boards, newsgroups, etc.
Note that since state law specifically defines the illegal sexual exhibition in images, those that simply contain nudity are not considered child pornography in New York State.
Soliciting Sexual Acts of a Minor
Anyone who communicates with a minor online, either by transmitting indecent images (pornography) or by engaging the minor in explicitly obscene chats like sexting, and by doing so solicits a real-life sexual encounter, is committing the crime of Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors.
This crime does not involve the mere transmitting of pornography or engaging in sexually explicit conversation. For this statute to apply, there must be a solicitation for a real-life sexual encounter. However, the mere solicitation of a minor to have this real-life meeting is all that is required; the minor does not have to actually meet with the person before law enforcement can step in.
Facing Internet-Related Criminal Charges?
If you are facing Internet-related charges, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Depending on the basis of your charge, you have a few defense options, such as arguing you had authorization to act as you did. Cybercrimes are growing increasingly prevalent with the fast spread of a digitized society, so it is important to have legal representation in any cybercrime charge you are facing. Let our team at Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC defend your case today.
Speak with an attorney at Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC today to schedule your free initial consultation.