Most people in America use the Internet each day, often for school and work. No matter why you use the Internet, you may find yourself in a precarious situation in which you are unsure if you have done something illegal.
You have reason to be concerned. The Internet has developed new ways to commit crimes, sometimes even by performing a web search for a topic that could be misconstrued. These are the most common kinds of crimes committed on the Internet.
Read on to learn more about Internet crimes and what you might be facing.
Crimes Involving Child Pornography
Pornography involving minors (anybody under the age of 18) is illegal in any form, and the crime is a federal offense. Many people believe they need to download images to be charged with a crime, but that is not true. Your computer often stores images you look at and pages you view in its cache.
The penalties for child pornography are strict, especially because they are meant to help children avoid victimization. If you are convicted of this kind of crime, you face years in prison and the requirement to register as a sex offender in the state of North Carolina.
Based on your search history, prosecutors can determine if you search something accidentally. Accidental searches are not considered criminal, but sometimes investigations make mistakes. For this reason, you need an attorney who understands the child pornography laws in your state.
Crimes Involving Illegal Downloads
Downloading copyrighted material is illegal in spite of the fact that many people use the web to download movies, music, and television shows. This material is owned by the copyright holder, not the person who puts the material out there to be downloaded.
One of the biggest penalties for illegally downloading these materials includes hefty fines. You could face a sentence in jail or prison if you are a repeat offender, so you should still hire an attorney to represent your rights.
You cannot be charged for simply searching for copyrighted material to download, but your searches could be the impetus for further investigation. Additionally, you may find yourself in court even if you accidentally downloaded material. You need an attorney to ensure the investigation does not harm your rights.
Crimes Involving Searching for Sensitive Terms
Many people become afraid they will be put on a list for searching for specific terms, including those related to murder and death. Doing research on whether or not you broke a law is not illegal. On the other hand, these search materials could be used as evidence if they are part of a larger investigation into a crime or if you are suspected of trying to plan a crime.
Defense Against Internet Crimes
You need an attorney when you fight against Internet crimes. These crimes are sometimes tried in federal court based on the nature of the Internet. If you commit a crime involving child porn, for instance, you have committed a federal crime rather than a state crime.
Any of these crimes could be elevated to a larger crime if you use a government computer to commit a crime. Additionally, these crimes may be elevated if they include minors. You need a lawyer who understands the best way to keep your rights secure and to prevent you from facing consequences when you are innocent.
Do you think you might be in trouble with the law for something that happened online? Call Barrett & Howell Attorneys at Law. Set up a consultation with a knowledgeable attorney to learn more about Internet crimes. You have rights, even on the web.