California Internet Crimes overview
As computers and the internet rapidly gain prominence in the way people conduct business, socialize, and share information, they have also emerged as highly sophisticated tools for committing crimes. Internet crime, or cybercrime, is very broad and can include offenses ranging from criminal threats, to child molestation, to theft or fraud.
Prosecutors and investigators at both the state and federal level work in conjunction in internet crime investigations to prosecute the full gamut of computer crimes. The more common crimes include:
- Child Pornography – Any act of knowingly producing, possessing, or distributing images depicting minors under the age of 18 engaged in sexual activities is illegal in California. See California Penal Code Section 311.1.
- Crimes Against a Child – It is illegal in California for an adult to contact or attempt to contact a minor under the age of 18 on the internet for the purposes of luring them from their home without parental consent to commit lewd acts with the minor for sexual gratification.
- Identity Theft/ Cyber Fraud – Fraudulently obtaining personal information of another for illegal purposes is prosecuted in California as a theft crime. See California Penal Code Section 530.5.
- Spoofing: This is a fraudulent activity in which websites or emails attempt to gain an illegitimate advantage by passing themselves off as coming from a legitimate company or website.
- Phishing: This is the process of attempting to acquire personal information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card information through fraudulent, misleading methods such as spoofing.
- Credit Card/Bank Account Fraud: This type of fraud occurs when a person uses another persons credit card or bank account information to make unauthorized purchases online.
- Computer Hacking: This crime occurs when a person gains access to computer programs or secured websites through unlawful tactics. See California Penal Code Section 502.
- Cyber Stalking – Stalking another person through the computer is punishable in California as stalking. See California Penal Code Section 646.9. Sending threatening, unwanted emails to the victim to the point where they begin to fear for their safety will qualify as cyber stalking. This crime also applies to posts or messages on social website profiles like Facebook or Twitter.
- Illegal Downloading – This crime occurs in situations where copyrighted materials (e.g., movies, music, etc.) are shared or illegally downloaded through file-sharing software without authorization.
- Impersonation - Any person who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an internet website or by other electronic means, as specified, for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a misdemeanor. See California Penal Code Section 528.5
At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys are deeply concerned about the serious accusations that stem from internet crimes and will work to defend our clients against the legal repercussions that they may face. Internet crimes are rapidly emerging in prominence and our attorneys are prepared to zealously defend those who are accused of such crimes. Call us today at 888-749-0034 or visit us online at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.