Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Have You Been Accused of a Cybercrime?

In Colorado, when someone uses a computer or the internet to commit a crime, it is considered a cybercrime. If you are accused of committing a cybercrime in or near the Denver area, it is a serious matter, and you must reach out as quickly as possible to a Denver cybercrime attorney.

What specific crimes are considered cybercrimes in this state? What are your legal rights if you are charged with a cybercrime, and what steps will you need to take? When should you contact a Denver cybercrime defense lawyer, and what will that lawyer do on your behalf?

You will find the answers to these questions if you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of cybercrimes, the law, and your legal rights in the State of Colorado.

What Constitutes a Cybercrime?

“Cybercrime” is a term that includes hacking into someone else’s computer system without that person’s consent, theft or fraud using a computer or smartphone and the internet, or the use of a computer or smartphone and the internet to harm, damage, injure, or victimize another person.

In simpler terms, if a person uses a smartphone or a computer to commit a crime, it’s considered a cybercrime. As you know, the internet has made possible a wide variety of online criminal activities. Under Colorado law, someone commits a cybercrime by knowingly and intentionally:

  1.  accessing, without authorization, a computer, computer system, or network
  2.  unauthorized altering, interrupting, or damaging of a computer, system, or network
  3.  using any computer or smartphone to commit fraud or theft
  4.  transmitting online a program, code, data, or command to cause damage
  5.  circumventing the rules and regulations for obtaining tickets to events

Other cybercrimes include solicitation of a minor, uploading or downloading child pornography, intellectual property theft, digital copyright infringement, and “phishing,” which happens when someone deceptively tries to obtain someone else’s confidential financial information.

How Extensive is the Cybercrime Problem?

The internet provides us with outstanding benefits. You can view classic films online, learn to repair an air conditioner, or visit observatories and museums. However, there is a price that’s paid for these benefits.

From offices, basements, and bedrooms, criminals commit cybercrimes ranging from fraud to child pornography. Although more than 3,000 federal, state, and local police agencies investigate and prosecute cybercrimes, far too many of these crimes remain undetected for far too long.

Who Investigates Cybercrimes?

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation routinely investigates cybercrimes and computer-related identity theft in this state. Depending on the nature of the crime and the damage it causes, a cybercrime in Colorado may be charged as a felony, a misdemeanor, or a petty offense.

Cybercrimes may also be federal crimes. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes it a crime to steal, damage, or illegally access a computer system. The penalties for a conviction include up to ten years in federal prison for a first offense and up to twenty years for a subsequent offense.

Could You Be Wrongly Accused of a Cybercrime?

Someone who uses a computer in Colorado could steal the intellectual property of a business in New York, steal tickets for a concert or sports event in California, or post revenge porn pictures of a person in Florida. Someone could also be falsely accused or framed for these cybercrimes.

If you face cybercrime charges, your social media accounts, text messages, and emails may be closely scrutinized. Your phone and computer may be searched. Colorado prosecutors can be quite aggressive, especially when cybercrime cases involve minors or large sums of money.

The U.S. Department of Justice also aggressively prosecutes cybercrimes. When these crimes involve individuals from different states, federal law has usually been violated, and charges may be filed in federal court.

What Are the Charges for Cybercrimes and Penalties for Cybercrime Convictions?

Under Colorado law, accessing a computer, computer system, or network without authorization is charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor if it’s a first offense. However, a subsequent offense for accessing a computer, system, or network without authorization is charged as a Class 6 felony.

The specific criminal charges that may be filed for cybercrimes involving theft or damage will depend on the amount stolen or the cost of the damages. Someone who posts images that constitute revenge porn may be charged in Colorado with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The internet exploitation of a child is a Class 4 felony in Colorado that may be penalized upon conviction with prison and mandatory sex offender registration. A conviction in federal court for the internet exploitation of a child may be penalized with up to thirty years in federal prison.

Cybercrime convictions also have extra-legal consequences. If you carry a professional license in Colorado, a cybercrime conviction may trigger disciplinary action by your state licensing board. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, a cybercrime conviction may prompt a deportation proceeding.

How Can You Fight a Cybercrime Charge?

Innocent people are sometimes confused or tricked into clicking a link that should not be clicked, and they may unwittingly break a law without knowing it. In other words, a cybercrime charge may be the result of a misunderstanding or a mistake by someone with no criminal intent.

Always pay attention to what you’re doing online. Never discuss sex online – or anything that hints of criminal activity – with someone you do not know personally in real life. That will protect you against most cybercrime allegations and charges.

If a law enforcement agency has violated your rights while investigating you for a cybercrime, a Denver cybercrime attorney will file a motion with the court to have the case dismissed or to toss out of court any evidence that was gathered as the result of the violation of your rights.

How Will a Cybercrime Lawyer Help You?

If you’re charged with a cybercrime in or near the Denver area, ask a Denver cybercrime defense lawyer to represent you, fight for your rights, negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf, and defend you if your case goes to trial.

If you are investigated or placed under arrest and charged with hacking, internet fraud, identity theft, or with any cybercrime that involves a child, you must speak at once with a Denver criminal defense lawyer. Your first legal consultation is provided with no cost or obligation.

If you are taken into custody and questioned by the police about a cybercrime, exercise your right to remain silent. Simply say “I would prefer not to answer questions until my attorney can be here,” then say nothing more, and contact a defense attorney at your very first opportunity.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.