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West Chester INTERNET / CYBER CRIMES

West Chester INTERNET / CYBER CRIMES

Federal, State, and local law enforcement have recently dramatically increased investigation efforts into a wide variety of high-tech crimes, including various internet and cyber crimes. Because the use of the internet often crosses state lines, these types of crimes can be prosecuted by federal or state law enforcement.

Therefore, the penalties for cyber crime convictions can be severe, and far-reaching. Due to the nature of the internet, innocent individuals can easily get caught up in computer crime task force investigations.

Internet and cyber crimes can include a wide variety of criminal offenses, including:

  • Cyber-stalking
  • Impersonating Another Person On-line
  • Identity theft
  • Harassment
  • Fraud
  • Investment Scams
  • Credit Card Theft
  • Gambling On-line
  • Child Solicitation
  • Online Child Pornography
  • Fraudulent Sale of Items on the Internet
  • Phishing
  • Computer Theft or Trespass

West Chester Cyber Crime Defense Attorney

Contact an experienced attorney at the Skinner Law Firm today at (610) 436-1410 for a consultation on your cyber crime charges, and how to protect yourself against harsh repercussions. Attorney Michael J. Skinner represents persons charged with internet and cyber crimes throughout Chester County and Delaware County, PA.


Pennsylvania Internet / Cyber Crimes Information Center


Pennsylvania Internet and Cyber Crimes Statutes

Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Statutes describes various internet offenses and cyber crimes, and the potential punishments for committing these offenses:

  • 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7613 – Computer Theft:
      This offense can occur if a person unlawfully access or exceeds permissible access to data from a computer, computer system or computer network, or makes copies of data on any computer system with the intent to take the data from the rightful owner. This offense is felony of the third degree.
  • 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7615 – Computer Trespass:
      A person commits this offense if they knowingly and without authority use a computer or computer network to remove data, cause a malfunction of the computer, change or erase any data, alter a financial instrument or electronic transfer of funds, or physically damage someone else’s property. A conviction for any of these offenses is a felony of the third degree.
  • 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6312 – Online Child Pornography:
      Someone can be convicted of this offense if they intentionally view, or knowingly possess any computer depiction of a child under 18 years old engaging in a sexual act. A first offense is a felony of the third degree.
  • 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7611 – Unlawful Use of Computers and E-mail:
      This offense occurs of a person accesses or exceeds permissible use of a computer, computer system, network, program, database, website, or anything else associated with computers with the intent to disrupt the normal function of a person or defraud them; intentionally and without authorization destroys anything associated with a computer; or intentionally and knowingly publishes confidential information about any devices associated with a computer. Any of these offenses are felonies of the third degree.
      This section generally covers most computer related offenses, and anything commonly known as hacking.
  • 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709 – Online Harassment:
      A person commits this crime when they engage in conduct intended to harass or annoy another person by communicating through electronic mail or the internet. This offense is a misdemeanor of the third degree.
  • 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709.1 – Online Stalking:This offense occurs when a person repeatedly communicates with another person through electronic mail or the internet with an intent to cause that person reasonable fear of bodily injury or emotional distress. A first violation of this offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree.

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Penalties for Cyber Crimes

According to 204 Pa. Code § 303.2, penalties for criminal offenses depend on a combination of the gravity score of the offense, the prior record of the offender, whether a deadly weapon was used and any other aggravating or enhancing factors.

Suggested maximum sentencing penalties for the following offenses are:

  • Online Harassment is a misdemeanor of the third degree and can incur up to one year in jail and/or fines not exceeding $2,500.
  • A first violation for online stalking is a misdemeanor of the first degree, and can include imprisonment for not more than five years and/or fines not in excess of $10,000.
  • Unlawful Use of Computers and E-mail, Possession of Online Child Pornography, Computer Trespass and Computer Theft are felonies of the third degree. These offenses are punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or fines not exceeding $15,000.

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Defenses to Internet and Cyber Crimes

There are possible statutory defenses to certain cyber crimes such as hacking, unlawful use of computers or e-mail or computer trespass.

One such defense to cyber crime is that the person who allegedly committed the crime was entitled by law or contract to engage in the conduct that leads to the offense.

Another defense is if the alleged offender reasonably believed they had permission of the authorized owner or would have had permission of the owner to engage in the conduct that leads to the offense.

Offenders charged with cyber crimes that require intent as an element to the crime may be able to use lack of intent as a defense. If the alleged offender did not have the required intent when they committed the offense, their charges could be dismissed or reduced to a less serious violation.


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Internet and Cyber Crime Resources in PA

Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center – The Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) aids the Department of Defense counterintelligence activities and Defense Criminal Investigative Organizations in criminal, counterintelligence, counter-terrorism and fraud investigations.

Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the United States Department of Justice provides information on how to report cyber, computer and intellectual property crimes. The website includes statistics, articles, press releases and annual reports on internet-related crimes. Learn more about the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.

Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Forces – United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Forces and Working Groups website provides information on federal, state and local law enforcement efforts, including the local task force, Pennsylvania Electronic and Internet Crimes Task Force.

FBI Cyber Crime Investigations – Visit the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) website to learn more about federal cyber or internet crime investigations, including online scams, identity theft, and corporate computer system hacking.

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Online – Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, also cited as 18 Pa. Const. Stat., contains all of the state’s rules and regulations regarding internet offenses and cyber crimes in the state of Pennsylvania. This link goes directly to Title 18, which is entitled “Crimes and Offenses.”

West Chester Police Department – The West Chester Police Department is a Pennsylvania law enforcement agency dedicated to protecting and serving the community from criminal acts and enforcing the laws of Pennsylvania. The department is located at:

WCPD
401 East Gay Street
West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380
Phone: (610) 696-2700

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Finding an Experienced Internet Crime Attorney in Pennsylvania

Contact the Skinner Law Firm today for a consultation about your internet or cybercrime charges in Chester County or Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Michael J. Skinner will listen to the facts surrounding your situation, and make every effort to identify any defenses or mitigating circumstances to reduce your charge or have it dismissed. Call (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your case directly with a former prosecutor.

Michael Skinner
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