Computers bring innumerable benefits to society and civilization. With the development of the internet, creative new opportunities for business, education, and communication have expanded and blossomed. But a cost is being paid for these benefits and opportunities, and it’s being paid by the victims of internet crimes. Lawmakers have responded, so over the last quarter-century, an entirely new branch of criminal law has emerged.

Crimes committed over the internet are now met with a broad, formidable array of recently-adopted measures intended to protect the innocent and deliver justice to the guilty. Still, advances in computer technology are matched at every step by advances in criminal methods and techniques. From the privacy of locked basements, bedrooms, and offices, criminals pursue crimes ranging from credit card scams to internet stalking. Often, these crimes remain undetected or unreported for months and sometimes longer.

The rapid rise of internet crimes and their sometimes horrific nature has compelled legislators to create (and judges and juries to impose) stiff sentences for defendants convicted of these crimes. Because internet crimes can be complicated and stealthy, it’s sometimes difficult for law officers to obtain the evidence and build the cases they need for convictions. Those suspected of criminal activity on the internet may be monitored or otherwise subject to surveillance for weeks or even months. And sometimes, suspects are falsely accused, framed, or have simply surfed the internet to find themselves unintentionally involved in a computer crime.

Today, federal law as well as the state laws of New York view internet crimes quite seriously. Convictions, depending on the specific charge, can result in costly fines or lengthy incarceration. If you are being investigated for or charged with an internet crime, you need to obtain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney without delay. Criminal laws governing the internet can be complex and confusing, so the assistance of a criminal defense attorney with experience in this modern branch of criminal law is invaluable.

Identity Theft: A Common Computer Crime

In the 1960s, young people were obsessed with “finding themselves.” One famous rock song repeatedly posed the question, “Who are you?” However, in the 21st century, when you find your identity, you better hold onto it tightly, because identity thieves are everywhere. In 1998, the federal government first dealt with the matter by passing the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which made identity theft a federal crime. Six years later, Congress passed the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which addressed aggravated identity theft and imposed harsher penalties for those convicted of committing such crimes.

Generally speaking, identity theft is stealing someone else’s personal information and then using that information to commit fraud, forgery, or a related crime. If you are accused of identity theft on Long Island or in New York City, you’ll need advice and representation from an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney. A person’s name may be stolen, but identity thieves usually take more: Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, credit card numbers, birth and death certificates, computer passwords, and anything else that can be used to impersonate an identity theft victim. Identity theft is typically linked to a theft or fraud crime such as forgery, embezzlement, insurance fraud, healthcare fraud, or exploitation of the elderly.

As the internet continues to evolve, thieves have found new ways to commit identity theft. Criminals can use Trojan horse computer viruses to infiltrate your computer and steal your personal information. Thieves can also use email phishing, which is an email where a thieve claims to be a legitimate business, asking the receivers to visit a website and enter their personal information in order to receive some kind of benefit. Once the information is entered, the victim does not receive anything…besides a stolen identity.

Under New York state law, Identity Theft in the First Degree is a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. Identity Theft in the Second Degree is a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison, and Identity Theft in the Third Degree is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. If you’re charged with identity theft as a federal crime, the penalties can be even more severe.

Of course, not everyone charged with identity theft is guilty. If you genuinely had no criminal intent, if the entire incident was simply a misunderstanding, or if you’ve been misidentified or falsely accused, there’s no reason you should be convicted, but you must have legal counsel. If you are charged on Long Island or in New York City, arrange at once to speak with an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney.

Be Careful Online

Lawmakers and courts have done what they can to protect the innocent and hold accountable the guilty, but advances in law enforcement and law enforcement technology are matched, it seems, at every step by innovative new crimes and criminal methods. Internet-related crimes often go unreported for months if they’re reported at all.

The internet is s tool used by thieves and embezzlers, con artists of all types, child molesters and child pornographers, and by those who post something called “revenge porn.” Vandalism – the disruption of a company’s or agency’s website and the business they do there – is also a common online crime. Because crime on the internet is complicated and surreptitious, it’s can be tough for police officers to gather the evidence they need for arrests and convictions. Some suspects are wrongly accused, intentionally framed, or simply made a mistake arriving at the wrong website or downloading the wrong item. Almost anyone could be accused of a computer-related crime. If you’re charged with a computer-related crime on Long Island or in New York City, immediately contact an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer.

When you’re online, be careful. Federal laws and New York state laws both treat internet crimes as serious crimes, and when internet crimes involve children, you can forget about mercy from the court if you’re convicted. If you are being investigated for an internet crime or charged with one, now or in the future, obtain sound legal advice and aggressive defense representation immediately. Arrange as quickly as possible to consult with an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer.