July 7, 2007 By Wallin & Klarich

The rapid increase in the use of the Internet by people of all walks of life in the past decade has led to a steady increase in Internet crimes. Law enforcement agencies take Internet related crimes very seriously and go to great lengths to lure potential offenders.

Internet service providers are willing to work with law enforcement to make sure their on-line users do not facilitate crimes such as child exploitation and pornography, adult pornography, computer hacking and forms of child molesting or annoying minors. As such there are many “sting” operations within law enforcement agencies that attempt to lure curious on-line customers into chat rooms, to promote sending and downloading picture files and of course seek out potentially interested on-line users to meet persons they have spoken to over the web and carry out illegal activity.

The first crime law enforcement attempts to solicit is the passing of Obscene Material, which is found in C.P.C. § 311. This statute applies to all possessing and publishing for sale or distribution of sexual conduct by a minor. This statute was updated in 1999 to include storing images on hardware, software or any storage medium including CD-ROMS and any printing of a computer generated image.

Another popular law for law enforcement is the Sexual Exploitation of Minors found under C.P.C. § 311.3. This law is slightly different in that the defendant has to duplicate, develop, print or exchange an image or photo showing a minor engaging in an act of sexual conduct. This charge is aimed at the user rather than the distributor.

The fairly new Stalking law found in C.P.C. § 646.9 now applies to electronic mediums as well. If you repeatedly harass someone by using an electronic communication device and threaten him or her with reasonable apprehension of fear, you are stalking them (This would apply to phone calls, voicemails and emails).

Under C.P.C. § 653(m), one can be charged with Contact by Electronic Communication with the Intent to Annoy. What used to only apply to telephone calls now applies to all electronic communication on the Internet. All bad faith telephone calls or electronic communication, which would apply to email, that are made in bad faith and are repeated to annoy are punishable by county jail or state prison.

There are also non-child related offenses such as Computer Hacking (Unauthorized access to computers, systems and data) found in C.P.C. § 502. These offense include destroying and altering data including using another Internet domain name. This form of trespassing may carry fines as high as $5,000 and $10,000 plus penalty assessments.

These are just some of the major crimes that are now attributed to the Internet by state law. The larger issue is whether a Federal Law is broken since the Internet crosses state lines and is considered Interstate Commerce. Therefore, knowing the Federal laws can add insight to this topic.

The Law Offices of WALLIN & KLARICH specialize in the defense against Internet Crimes and are known for their vigorous defense of those accused of internet-related crimes.

Contact WALLIN & KLARICH at 888-280-6839 for a free consultation.

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