Have You Been Charged with An Internet Scam?
The internet is a bigger part of culture today than it has ever been. It can lead to problems when people don’t entirely understand what’s going on when they make a purchase on a website, or open an email from an unknown source. Doing business over the internet is inherently riskier than doing business in person. Misinterpretations online can lead to legal trouble.
North Carolina classifies computer crimes as both misdemeanors and felonies. A computer crime can be anything from an internet scam to a misleading picture of an article of clothing that you’re selling.
The internet changes constantly, and the law the controls it is also evolving every day. If you’re facing charges related to an internet scam in North Carolina, you’ll need the skilled help of a skilled white-collar crime attorney from Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys. A lawyer at our firm will defend you if you’ve been charged with a criminal offense committed online.
Internet Crimes Can Cover Many Actions
When people think of computer crimes, they likely think of hacking. In reality, there are numerous offenses that someone can commit over the internet. For example, you could use a website to defraud someone during a business transaction. This is commonly referred to as an internet scam. An important component of fraud committed over the internet is intent; you must have been engaging in your actions to mislead the other party. If you did not intend to misrepresent yourself, you might be able to avoid a fraud conviction.
How are NC Computer Crimes Classified?
Governing internet crime is a joint effort between state and federal law. In North Carolina, these offenses can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the specific offense you committed. Under North Carolina law, it is a criminal offense if you access a computer to:
- Defraud, or execute any scheme that defrauds
- Obtain material by making false or fraudulent promises or obtaining property by false pretense
This offense begins as a class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 120 days in jail. You may also face a fine at the discretion of the court. If the goods or services you fraudulently acquired were worth more than $1,000, or if the damages caused exceed that amount, your offense will be classified as a class G felony, which is punishable by up to 31 months in prison.
North Carolina General Statute (NCGS) § 14-458 recognizes computer trespassing as an offense. You can commit computer trespass through a variety of acts, including:
- Removing, altering or disabling computer data or programs
- Causing a computer malfunction
- Making unauthorized copies of any information
- Falsely or fraudulently send electronic messages
Computer trespass begins as a class 3 misdemeanor. In North Carolina, this results in a maximum of 20 days in jail. If your activity results in up to $2,500 in damages, your offense becomes a class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 120 days in jail. If the damages are in excess of $2,500, your offense is classified as a class I felony, which is punishable by up to one year of incarceration.
The Statute of Limitations and Possible Defenses for Computer Crimes
There is not a statute of limitations for felony-level North Carolina computer crimes. This means regardless of when your actions occurred you can face prosecution. If your offense was a misdemeanor, the statute of limitations is two years.
Most internet crimes require intent for you to be convicted. You cannot get in trouble simply for stumbling into the wrong part of the internet. An experienced lawyer will be able to analyze your case, and provide you with your best defense options.
Facing Charges for an Internet Scam? Contact Us Today for Help
The internet has made it easier than ever to communicate with each other. Unfortunately, it has also made it easier to misunderstand others’ actions and words. Make sure you don’t pay the price for an unintentional misunderstanding. Call an experienced white-collar crime attorney from Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys if you’re facing charges for a computer crime in the Charlotte area.