When someone takes passwords, uses misrepresentation or fraud, or uses other devices to swipe personal information, financial data, trade secrets, or copyright information, cyber crime charges can apply.
With the number and severity of computer crimes increasing drastically in recent years, there has been a huge push to punish violators severely. So, if you find yourself facing charges, it’s understandable to feel scared. However, there are ways to defend yourself and beat your charges.
In this post, we’re going to cover the law, penalties, and what strategies are most likely to net you a positive outcome.
Cyber Crime Laws in Illinois
The Illinois Computer Crime Prevention Law addresses three categories of cyber crimes. First, it deals with tampering, which is unlawfully gaining access and creating or distributing viruses. Secondly, it delineates government cyber crimes as aggravated computer tampering. Third, it deals with using computers to commit fraud.
Illinois laws prosecute cyber crimes on both misdemeanor and felony levels. You can be charged with a misdemeanor for the following cyber crimes:
- Unlawful computer or system access
- Fraudulent email use and distribution through an email system
You can be charged with either a class B or class A misdemeanor if convicted on either of those charges. For a second or subsequent offense, charges can be raised to a felony.
Felony charges will be issued for the following acts:
- Knowingly accessing data, systems, or computers with the intent to defraud, scheme, or deceive
- Damaging computer or destroying, altering, or deleting data or programs during the act of defrauding, scheming, or deceiving
- Obtaining control over someone else’s money during the act of defrauding, scheming, or deceiving
A class 3 or class 4 felony charge will apply in most of these cases, but if at least $50,000 in monetary value is involved, a class 2 felony will apply.
In addition to these charges, the plaintiff can file a civil lawsuit for damages related to their losses.
Defenses to Cyber Crime Charges in Illinois
A skilled attorney can help you fight your cyber crime charges with the right defense. The following common defenses may work in your case:
Lack of knowledge
Cyber crime charges hinge on whether the offender acted with knowledge. If your lawyer can prove that you acted with innocence, your charges can get dropped.
Another key component of cyber crime charges is acting without permission from the owner. If you can show that the owner of the account, system, or computer granted you access, it will greatly help your case.
This defense can be used if someone threatened to harm you or your loved one unless you committed a cyber crime.
Obviously, these are not the only possible defense strategies. Every case is different, and there are all kinds of possible ways to argue that you should not be convicted.
Your attorney will look closely at the details of your case to determine which defense will work for you, and they may even use a mix of strategies to highlight the specific points of strength in your argument.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.