The Pew Research Center reports that 87 percent of all adults now use the internet in some capacity. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce data from May 2015, about 7 percent of all retail sales take place online, a number that has grown rapidly over the past few years — doubling in just eight years.
It should be no surprise that reports of crime have followed the same path. More and more criminal accusations are based on alleged online behavior. Defending these type of charges can rely on both technology and fundamental constitutional principles like free speech.
If you face allegations of any criminal offense based on online activity, whether it be hacking, attacking with a virus, worm or another program, fraud, solicitation of a minor, child pornography, or any other crime, an attorney who understands technology is in the best person to fight for you. Since his days as an innovator as the Director of Litigation Support for the Clark County Public Defender’s Office and co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Trial Practice and Technology Committee, Jeffrey Jaeger has a history of keeping track of where technology and criminal law meet.
Contact a skilled Las Vegas cybercrime lawyer who will fight for you at (702) 816-3888 to set up a free consultation. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Jaeger represents clients throughout Clark County, including Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas.
A number of crimes relating directly to hacking, worms, viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, and other similar digital programs are contained in Nevada Revised Statutes 205.473-513. The crimes range from misdemeanors to Class C felonies. Generally, it is a crime to enter, modify, damage, destroy, use, or copy data, files, and programs in another person’s computer or network. If the actions defraud, steal more than $500 or cause an interruption in a public service or utility, the charges can escalate to serious felonies.
These criminal charges can be filed in conjunction with any other alleged offense that may have been committed. Many laws that have been on the books for a long time may be applied in ways that result in criminal charges based on something the accused does on the Internet. For example, prosecutors may make the case that entering onto another’s property in digital form may be guilty of trespass.
Cyberstalking and cyberharassment are also major issues. In 2003, the Nevada Legislature amended the stalking statute, NRS 200.575, to add that if a person engages in stalking (engaging in a course of conduct intended to make a reasonable person feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, harassed or fearful for the immediate safety of a family or household member and actually causes that feeling) and publishes, display or distributes any material via the internet, email or texting in the course of said stalking, it is a Class C felony.
Threats of violence and damage to property conducted over the internet, including over social media sites, may be prosecuted as harassment under NRS 200.571.
Certain sex offenses may also involve online activity. Most child pornography charges are now based on allegations involving material distributed online. The crime of luring a child, found in NRS 201.560, may involve allegations of communication that happened over the internet, including in social media sites.
Like in any other case, when prosecuting cyber crimes, the state must prove every element of its case beyond reasonable doubt. Finding the best defense to prosecution may involve carefully looking into metadata and other sources.
Intent is also a frequent issue in internet crime cases. Prosecutors must prove the defendant had the requisite mens rea, or state of mind, to commit the acts in the criminal statute. The mens rea is often that the person committed the acts knowingly or willfully. Prosecutors must prove, for instance, in an online solicitation of a minor case that the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was younger than 16.
Freedom of Speech, protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution, may also be an issue in cases involving online activity, especially cyber harassment, cyberstalking, and certain sex offenses. In some cases, the defendant may argue the words or images involved fall within constitutionally protected speech. In Elonis v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that violent rap lyrics were not sufficient to prove a man intended to issue a threat.
The United States Bill of Rights: The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is included in the Bill of Rights, which is the first 10 amendments. The First Amendment restricts Congress from making a law that abridging the freedom of speech. Read the full amendment here.
U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Elonis v. United States: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that violent rap lyrics were not sufficient to prove a man intended to issue a threat. This ruling could have a significant impact on future cases involving online activity.
If you face any type of crime related to use of the internet or any online system, be sure to contact a Las Vegas cybercrime lawyer who understands technology and is prepared to look for every available defense. Jeffrey Jaeger has a history of technological innovation and the knowledge to mount the best possible defense for you. Call today at (702) 816-3888 to schedule a free consultation.
Stay up-to-date on the latest legal news in the Silver State. Las Vegas attorney Jeffrey Jaeger discusses important developments in Nevada Appellate Courts.