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Computer Crimes

With the continued development of technology, computers and computer technology are increasingly being used to commit crimes. The California Penal Code generically addresses computer-related crimes in Penal Code section 502. Generally, this section focuses upon the access of computer networks and systems without permission and with the intent to alter, destroy, or use such information. These crimes are, depending upon the applicable subsection, punishable as misdemeanors or felonies. But computer related crimes go beyond accessing computer networks and systems. More and more, computers are used to commit such crimes as extortion, theft, identity theft, fraud, and sex crimes such as child pornography. Some jurisdictions are passing so-called "cyber-bullying statutes" making it a crime to "bully" someone over the internet. Visit California Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies

According to Wikipedia, "forty-nine states in the United States have passed school anti-bullying legislation, the first being Georgia in 1999. The one state without anti-bullying legislation is Montana." According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, about 20 percent of children age 11-18 have been victims of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as "willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices." Cyberbullying occurs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In August 2008, the California State Legislature passed a law directly related with cyber-bullying. The legislation gives school administrators the authority to discipline students for bullying others offline or online." Although there is no California criminal statute titled "cyber bullying", such conduct can be prosecuted under available California laws, such as criminal threats (Penal Code 422), Stalking (Penal Code 646.9), and criminal annoyance (Penal Code 653m), to name a few. Witness the prosecution in New Jersey of Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers University student who secretly recorded his roommate in an act of sexual intimacy and then published the recording. These prosecutions are on the rise as people are accused of using more and more technological methods of intimidating their alleged victims. 

In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed the so-called "Revenge Porn" law. This statute actually is an addition to existing Penal Code section 647. It makes it a crime for someone who (1) takes images by any means of another person's intimate body parts when it is understood that these images will be kept private; (2) distributes these images and the person within the image is identifiable; (3) intending to causes serious emotional distress; and (4) causes serious emotional distress to the person shown in the image. Although this statute is hailed by many, it has serious weaknesses and defenses to criminal charges. 

If you have been charged with a computer related crime, please contact the office for a free consultation.




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