With the advent of computers and the internet, a new category of criminal activity has arisen in the last few decades called “cybercrime.” These are activities that can take place on computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. They are generally committed through the internet or with the help of the latest computer technology that is ever-changing, growing, and becoming more advanced. These crimes range from creating, sending, or receiving child pornography via the internet to hacking into personal, corporate, or government computer systems to steal knowledge, implant viruses for damage, or for other criminal purposes.
Cybercrimes include a variety of activities but the common denominator among them is usually the intent to cause some type of harm or damage to others or for personal financial gain. In this blog, we will explain the most common types of these crimes that are prosecuted in Wisconsin courts and the penalties they may involve upon a conviction.
What Are the Common Types of Wisconsin Cybercrimes?
Common cybercrimes include but are not limited to:
- Possession and/or distribution of child pornography
- Network/computer hacking or improper access
- Installing/spreading viruses or malware to disrupt, damage, or steal information
- Phishing or other scams perpetrated through the internet such as falsifying sender information to make emails appear as if they are from trusted institutions or service companies
- Cyberbullying that includes threats or intimidation sent via texts, emails, and social media
- Using computers and the internet to commit fraud
- Piracy that distributes copyrighted material without the owner’s consent
- Identity theft that involves using another’s personal identification such as credit card or banking information to appropriate funds
- Luring minors for sexual purposes through internet chat rooms or through social media
- Solicitation of sexual activity for money through electronic devices
Cybercrimes may be charged at the state or federal level. Federal crimes are generally much more serious and involve harsher penalties than state crimes. Federal crimes may be investigated exhaustively by such agencies as the FBI. These crimes are punished according to the type of crime, the amount of damage done to victims, and the defendant’s previous criminal history, if applicable.
Wisconsin carries its own laws for the willful and knowing offenses against computer data and programs. These include offenses done to defraud others or to unlawfully appropriate property, charged as a Class I felony punishable by up to three and a half years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000.
When more than $2,500 worth of damage has been done to computers or networks, it is charged as a Wisconsin Class H felony carrying a prison term of up to six years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. When this type of computer crime has put someone at risk of bodily injury or death, it is charged as a Class F felony punished by 12 and a half years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000. Aside from criminal penalties, victims may also file civil lawsuits against the defendant for damages or relief as well.
Get Help from the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella
Any cybercrime conviction carries with it potentially harsh criminal consequences. If you or someone you know is being investigated or has already been charged with a cybercrime, you should enlist the services of a reputable attorney. At our firm, you can work with a former prosecutor who understands how the government furthers its case against defendants and who has 20 years of experience in handling criminal cases in Milwaukee courts.
Reach out to our firm to book a free consultation at (414) 882-8382 or contact us online today.