September 28, 2023
The Internet is a wonderful way to communicate with people around the world, search for information, and explore new places without leaving our home. Unfortunately, advances in technology make it incredibly easy to commit all kinds of crimes from thousands of miles away – sometimes without even realizing that you are doing something wrong.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has a whole department dedicated to investigating and preventing cyber or computer crimes, specifically when identity theft or fraud is involved. Below we have listed the five most common types of computer and cyber crimes committed in Colorado, and the state’s penalties for computer crimes.
By knowing what the state considers a computer crime, you’ll be better equipped to understand – and fight – any potential charges they lay at your feet.
Identity Theft and Fraud. If a tall, robust man uses a card in a store with the name “Brenda,” employees are probably going to get a little suspicious. When you are behind a computer screen, however, no one has a way to determine your real identity. Fraudsters often use the Internet to shield their identity when using stolen or false information. The Internet also provides plenty of opportunity for fraudsters to obtain that information.
For example, a fraudster may set up an online store with real goods to be sold. As people around the world order those goods, they have to enter their personal and credit card information. Fraudsters will then use that credit card information to make fraudulent purchases, and it may take weeks for the victims to realize their information was stolen.
But what if you thought you had permission? Or otherwise made some kind of mistake? A smart identity theft lawyer will know which potential defense strategy is most likely to bolster your case.
Scams. A common way to obtain information, and even money, is through Internet scams. Have you ever gotten a pop-up telling you that you’ve won an iPod, cash, or a new flat-screen TV? Or maybe you’ve received an email from a “long-lost relative” that you’ve never heard of asking for cash. Victims may hand over money or information after they think they have won a prize, found love, or are donating to a worthy cause.
Again, though, this can be a gray area. The difference between a legitimate contest and a scam, for example, is smaller than most people realize.
Hacking. Since we hold personal and important information on our computers and mobile devices, we try to keep them secure. Even with passwords, personal questions, or other security measures, however, clever computer users have the capability to break into your personal computer or your business’s network.
Often times, this is done so the hacker can get information, but hacking is also associated with exposing or committing white-collar crimes. It’s all-too-easy for a hack that seems like mere fun and games to turn into a criminal offense.
Cyberbullying and Harassment. Did you ever have to deal with bullies on the playground or in the neighborhood growing up? Imagine those bullies being able to follow you wherever you go. This is the reality that many young people face online. Around one million teenagers are victims of bullying over the Internet, known as cyberbullying, each year.
While many instances of cyberbullying do not go beyond a few mean words, serious threats and harassment can result in criminal charges. Over 30 states have adopted laws regarding penalties for cyberbullying. In Colorado, you can face up to six months in jail if convicted of cyberbullying. Kids, especially, have to be incredibly aware of these laws, because something that seems like a harmless joke may end up destroying your life.
Child Enticement. When teenagers feel upset, harassed, or alone, they may seek solace in adults on the Internet who appear to offer comfort. However, when an adult manipulates young people on the Internet to seduce them, lure them into sexual activity, or exploit them, the adult may be charged with child enticement.
But one of the main draws of communicating online is anonymity. How can anyone really know the age of the person they’re interacting with? Was there actual intent behind the accused’s actions? Was entrapment involved?
Penalties for Computer Crimes
According to Colorado state law, any time someone knowingly uses a computer to commit the above crimes (or any other crime prohibited by law,) he or she can be charged with a computer crime. The penalties for computer crimes vary based on the amount of losses or damages that accumulated due to that crime:
- Less than $100: Class 3 misdemeanor
- Between $100-$500: Class 2 misdemeanor
- Between $500-$15,000: Class 4 felony
- Over $15,000: Class 3 felony
Computer crimes can be hard to track, and as technology changes, laws and policies will also change. If you have been charged or may be charged with a computer-related crime, consult with a Colorado computer crimes lawyer today.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.