Orange County Hacking Defense Lawyer
The widespread use of modern computers, cell phones, and tablets has led to a rise in hacking cases. Government agencies, private corporations, and everyday individuals are regularly targeted by hackers who are trying to access personal or financial information. As such, a district attorney may falsely accuse someone of hacking based solely on circumstantial evidence. While many cases are tried on a state level, it is not uncommon for the federal government to step in and level serious charges against an average citizen.
If you or someone you love has been charged with hacking, then you should not hesitate to contact Law Office of Michael L. Guisti. Our lead Orange County hacking defense attorney has in-depth knowledge of both federal and state laws. As a member of the Nation’s Top Attorneys, he can provide a thorough and aggressive defense to protect your future. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999.
Given that internet crimes are relevantly new for California criminal courts, the state has a very broad definition of hacking. Under California Penal Code 502(c), hacking is defined as the act of knowingly accessing another person’s computer system without permission. While most people imagine hackers as hooded individuals in dark basements using complicated programs to access government servers, the truth is that any individual can be charged with hacking for seemingly minor offenses.
For example, if a spouse accessed their partner’s cell phone without their permission to search for signs of infidelity, it would technically be considered hacking under California law. It can also include illegally accessing another person’s internet provider on their account or introducing malware onto another person’s computer in order to steal financial information.
Based on California’s broad definition of hacking, defendants can be charged with the crime for:
- Illegally accessing another person’s computer, server, network, cell phone, or other digital devices
- Allowing another person to access a private computer or server, such as a work computer or network
- Altering, tampering with, or deleting another person’s information without permission, such as deleting tax records or downloading sexually explicit photos from another person’s cloud
- Illegally accessing a government agency’s network or server
- Denial of Services, or DDoS, attacks that take a website or server offline
- Releasing malware onto another person’s computer
Hacking charges can scale up based on the severity of the crime and the types of “injuries” a victim suffers. Injuries can range from actual physical harm, such as if a vehicle’s software was hacked to cause an accident, to financial damages brought on by the loss of trade secrets. In turn, if a crime involves a government agency, the charges could drastically increase.
Unlike charges on a state level, which involve a wide variety of actions against businesses or individuals, federal computer hacking charges are specifically applied when a person violates 18 U.S.C. § 1030. Under this law, it is a federal crime for someone to illegally uses a computer, server, or network to access information that the government has deemed protected. Protected information is a broad term that can mean anything from tax records to government documents to certain personal information. It can also include any situation where a person illegally uses a government computer, server, or network, even if they do not access or tamper with the computer’s information.
Federal computer hacking charges are more heavily prosecuted than charges filed in a California criminal court. Simply being charged with illegally accessing a government computer can lead to a misdemeanor, which can involve a fine of up to one year in a county jail. However, if a defendant is charged with hacking for financial gain, then the charge can increase to a felony. This can lead to a maximum of 10 years in a California state prison, but aggravating factors can increase this to 15 to 20 years.
On a state level, hacking is typically charged as a misdemeanor if it was a first-time offense, there was no injury, and the total value of the services being used was less than $950. In all other situations, it is a wobbler, which can lead to misdemeanor or felony penalties.
Although it may vary depending on the specific crime, misdemeanor hacking can result in:
- Up to one year in a county jail;
- A fine of up to $1,000; and/or
- Informal probation
Felony hacking, such as illegally accessing another person’s financial documents, can result in:
- Up to 16 months, two years, or three years in a California state prison;
- A fine of up to $10,000; and/or
- Formal probation
In either situation, it is important to contact an experienced Orange County internet crimes defense attorney who can explain the full severity of your charges. These cases are extremely intricate, and can result in years in prison and hefty fines. If you are arrested for hacking, immediately contact Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to begin working on your defense.
Hacking charges are based on two main factors: the knowledge that you committed a crime and the lack of authorization. Accidentally logging on to another person’s Wi-Fi network is a simple mistake, not a crime. In turn, if you had permission to access another person’s files, then the prosecution can not convict you.
Based on these facts, your defense lawyer can argue several things to keep you out of prison, including:
- You were not aware that you illegally accessed another person’s computer, server, or network.
- You had permission to use the computer, cell phone, server, or network.
- It is a case of mistaken identity, and someone else had performed the hack.
- Someone used your computer, server, or network to commit the hack.
If there was no injury or financial loss, then your lawyer can argue to have any felony charges reduced to misdemeanors.
No one should face a charge as serious as hacking on their own. These cases are complicated, with a lot of moving parts and complex laws in place. Without a strong defense by a skilled trial attorney, you may end up behind bars for a crime you didn’t commit.
Do not let this happen. Contact an Orange County criminal defense attorney today at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti to get started on your case. We can provide thorough legal guidance throughout your trial and advocate for the lightest possible sentence. We may even be able to negotiate with the prosecution before your trial to have your charges dismissed altogether. Call our office at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to protect your rights and future.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.