Defenses to Internet Crime
Knowledge and Access
Generally, computer and internet crimes require two elements that must be proved in order to convict you of these types of crimes: knowledge and access. Knowingly means consciously and willfully, with complete understanding of the fact of the circumstances. Access means freedom of approach. An experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich may be able to argue that you had neither knowledge nor access to commit an internet crime.
Intent to Commit Internet Crime
In California, unlawful contact with a minor is a crime which also requires that you know, or reasonably should know that the subject of your communication is a minor. An additional element of this crime is intent. You must have formed the intent to commit an offense against the minor as enumerated in Penal Code section 288.3. Intent is a mental attitude with which an individual acts, and therefore it cannot ordinarily be directly proved but must be inferred from surrounding facts and circumstances. Intent refers only to the state of mind with which the act is done or omitted. It differs from motive, which is what prompts a person to act or to fail to act.
This is why it is important to hire a California attorney with experience in defending internet crime charges; because it is often difficult to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you formed the required criminal intent. If the facts and circumstances could suggest your intentions were not to cause harm to the minor, but were innocuous, then this element may not be satisfied and you may not be convicted of unlawful contact with a minor.
Successful Attempt of Internet Crime
You can only be punished under California criminal law (whether for identity theft or credit card fraud) if you actually obtain other people’s personal or credit card information through internet fraud (i.e., if your phishing was actually successful). You have a complete defense to “phishing” if you were not successful in your attempt to unlawfully obtain personal or financial information.
Entrapment serves as an absolute legal defense in California if you can prove that you only committed your charged offense because the police lured you into doing so. This means that if you successfully establish that you were entrapped, the criminal charges against you must be dismissed.
Scope of Employment Exception
The possibility of being charged with an Internet-related offense is likely to make anyone who has ever held an office job a little nervous. Let’s say one day you violate company policy by copying a file related to your work to a portable drive. You did this so that you could take the file home and work on it on your home computer over the weekend instead of coming into the office.
This sounds quite a bit like “knowingly accessing and without permission taking, copying, or using any data from a computer.” Did you commit a crime by doing this? Luckily, the answer is probably no. Penal Code 502 PC carves out an exception for acts that people commit within the scope of their employment…that is, when they are doing things that are reasonably necessary to the performance of their jobs.
In some cases, this exception may apply even when you are doing things at work that your employer did not specifically ask you to do, or would not have approved of you doing.
Possession or Control
Crimes involving possession of child pornography require the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you actually had control over the illegal material. You do not have “possession” over child pornography if you no longer have access to the material in your computer. You also have to know that the persons in the obscene material were under the age of 18 at the time the unlawful matter was produced. While age is sometimes obvious, particularly when the subject matter involves very young children, often age is not obvious. An experienced internet crimes defense attorney may be able to argue that you did not have access to any illegal material, and even if you did, that you could not know the sexually-related conduct involved minors.
Contact Wallin & Klarich today if you have been charged with an Internet crime.
Internet crimes are aggressively prosecuted in California. At Wallin & Klarich, our California attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients against charges which would have led to state and federal internet crime convictions carrying serious penalties.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina, We have been able to help our clients to successfully defend against computer fraud and other internet crimes. We will explore every option and carefully review all of the evidence against you to help you achieve the best result possible in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL (877-466-5245) for a free telephone consultation.
We will get through this together.