Cyber crimes are no joke. These crimes can include everything from unauthorized use of a computer to white collar crimes like identity theft or fraud. The state can build a case that you used a computer to commit internet sex crimes or to sell illegal substances or services. Whatever the allegations, it is important to know that if convicted these crimes come with serious penalties.
Building charges: What does the state need to charge me with a cyber crime?
The exact answer will vary depending on the allegations. When looking at allegations of unauthorized use of a computer, one of the key factors that the state will look to when building their case is the mental state of the accused. State law generally requires that the individual knew what they were doing — that the act was intentional and not an accident.
If the state is looking to build a case claiming that the accused hacked into another’s computer to use the information to defraud or obtain another’s property, the charges they can pursue vary depending on the value of the property at issue. A violation with a loss of more than $1,000 is generally a fifth-degree felony, while larger losses, such as those over $100,000, can result in third degree charges. If these third-degree charges result in a conviction, the accused could face up to 36 months imprisonment.
Evolving landscape: Will Ohio lawmakers change the law regarding cyber crimes?
State lawmakers are trying to increase the penalties available for these types of crimes. The Ohio House of Representatives recently passed a proposal that specifically addresses and updates how the state handles computer crimes. The proposal, known as the Ohio Computer Crimes Act or House Bill 116, is currently under review by the state Senate and not yet law. We will provide updates on this proposal as they become available.
Building a case: What should I do if the state accuses me of a cyber crime?
Those who are charged with a complex cyber crime can also face allegations of other crimes, such as theft offenses for stealing information related to credit cards. These additional charges can quickly add up, so it is important to take the allegations seriously. An attorney experienced in this niche area of criminal defense can review your case and discuss your options.