Former Prosecutors at Our NJ Criminal Defense Firm Are Ready To Defend Your Computer or Internet Related Offense
The breadth of activity that can be considered a computer crime has greatly expanded in recent years as more and more of our economic activities and social lives have moved to online platforms. Computer related criminal offenses under New Jersey law can range from data theft to fraud, identify theft, cyberstalking, and terrorism. Committing a computer crime in New Jersey can be punished with fines and imprisonment, including the presumption of imprisonment for those found guilty of certain charges.
If you are facing indictment for a computer crime – deliberately accessing computer data, networks or online accounts without proper authorization and for the purpose of criminal activity – you must respond with a strong and knowledgeable legal defense if you are to preserve your freedom.
The New Jersey criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall represent clients accused of computer crimes throughout the state, including individuals arrested for possession and even distribution of child pornography. Our firm has been defending individuals charged with a wide variety of state and federal criminal offenses for decades. We have a strong background in the use of technology and electronic devices, as well as analytical ability and skill that allows us to serve as a powerful and effective legal advocate for our clients. The formidable qualifications to serve you, include:
- A legal team with more than 200 years of combined experience in courtrooms across New Jersey
- Certified criminal trial attorneys, a distinction held by less than 2% of New Jersey lawyers
- A seasoned team of former prosecutors who have led a Major Crimes Bureau, Special Operations Unit, Guns Task Force, Domestic Violence Unit and a Trial Division
- Extensive experience defending state and federal cases and building relationships in County and U.S. District Courts in Trenton, Camden, Newark, and elsewhere in N.J.
- A track record of trials and other proceedings ending in dismissal of charges against our clients.
The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can act quickly and aggressively to help you if you face charges related to computer crimes. We may be able to stop an indictment from moving forward or ensure that federal charges are filed in New Jersey state courts instead of federal courts.
If you have been charged or there are indications that you are under investigation for a computer crime, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall immediately. We work out of Red Bank and additional offices across the state of New Jersey. Phone (877) 450-8301 or contact us online to set up a free initial legal consultation convenient for you.
New Jersey Computer Crime Statutes
New Jersey has several state statutes addressing computer crimes, including:
- Section 2C:20-25 – Computer criminal activity; degree of crime; sentencing.
- Section 2C:20-31 – Wrongful access, disclosure of information; degree of crime; sentencing.
- Section 2C:20-31.1 – Posting of certain information relative to law enforcement officers on the Internet; degree of crime.
- Section 2C:20-33 – Obtaining, copying, accessing program, software valued at $1,000 or less.
Activity defined as computer crime under New Jersey law includes:
- Deliberately accessing computer data, computer equipment or computer networks without proper authorization, for the purpose of criminal activity.
- Wrongful access and disclosure of information involving accessing computers, computer equipment, data, data storage systems and software to obtain personally-identifying information without authorization, including the reckless disclosure of personal information that is protected from disclosure by law or court order.
- Obtaining, accessing or copying any computer or software program valued at less than $1,000 without proper authorization.
Specific criminal activity may include:
- Unlawful access, including hacking social networks and email accounts
- Data theft (including “phishing”) or destruction
- Online ID theft
- Computer service theft
- Account hijacking
- Cyberstalking, cyberbullying, doxing
- Denial-of-service attack
- Introducing a virus or malware into a computer system
- Manipulating data, such as changing banking records, to transfer money to an account or participating in credit card fraud.
A computer offense may be charged under additional NJ statutes related to theft, fraud, stalking, or child pornography. There are also any number of federal crimes that may be filed in a computer or internet crime investigation. Federal authorities tend to get involved in cases that involve large amounts of money, a large number of people (organized crime) and/or activities that cross state or international borders.
These are serious crimes with harsh penalties for those convicted. You will need the help of a serious NJ computer crime lawyer to protect your legal rights.
Penalties for New Jersey Computer Crimes
Computer related criminal charges in New Jersey carry a range of penalties.
It is a fourth-degree crime to access and recklessly alter, damage or destroy any data, computer storage medium, computer program or software, computer equipment, computer system, or computer network. This becomes a third-degree offense if the value of the damage exceeds $5,000.
NJ computer crimes involving unlawful access to computer data, programs, software, equipment, networks in order to copy or steal them or use them to commit fraud are typically third-degree crimes
However, this offense becomes a second-degree crime if the data, computer program, software or information:
- Contains personal identifying information, medical diagnoses, treatments or other medical information concerning an identifiable person, or
- Contains governmental records or other information that is protected from disclosure by law, court order or rule of court, or
- Has a value exceeding $5,000.
Using a computer to defraud, or to illegally obtain services, property, personal identifying information, or money from the owner of a computer or any third party is also a third-degree offense. This becomes a second-degree offense if the value of the services, property, personal identifying information, or money obtained exceeds $5,000.
Any activity above can be charged as a first-degree offense if it results in a substantial interruption or impairment of public communications, transportation, water supplies, gas or power, or any other public service.
A substantial interruption is one that:
- Affects 10 or more structures, or
- Lasts for at least two hours, or
- Creates a risk of death or significant bodily injury, or
- Causes damages in excess of $250,000, or
- Causes significant bodily injury to any individual.
Computer crimes in New Jersey as described above may be punished as follows:
- Fourth-degree crime – up to 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree crime – 3 to 5 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
- Second-degree crime – 5 to 10 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines
- First-degree crime – 10 to 20 years in prison and up to $200,000 in fines.
Additionally, a person convicted of a computer offense in New Jersey must serve one third to one half of the full sentence to become eligible for parole if:
- The victim of the crime is a government agency.
- The defendant is sentenced for a first-degree computer crime.
Computer crimes cannot be merged. That is, they bring separate judgments, sentences and fines, and there is an additional fine for each computer crime conviction of $500 to $2,000, depending on the severity of the offense. These fines go into the state’s Computer Crime Prevention Fund.
Get Help From New Jersey Computer Crimes Attorney
If you have been asked to turn over your computer or electronic files at work and/or investigators have seized your computer, cellphone or other device(s), do not answer any questions. Instead, state clearly that you would like to speak to your attorney before speaking with investigators. The investigators’ questions will be designed to tie a suspect to certain facts, locations and/or a timeline that demonstrates access to certain computers, devices, networks, or platforms.
If you have been charged with a computer crime or have received a letter stating that you are the target of an investigation, you should contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall at your first opportunity. Enlisting the help of a knowledgeable computer crime defense attorney early in the legal process gives us time to build a strong defense against a potential indictment for computer crimes.
State and federal cases involving computer and internet crimes can be very complex. They often encompass numerous laws and charges, and lead to multiple evidentiary issues, which our seasoned NJ computer crimes defense lawyers can present in order to reduce or even eliminate a charge.
If contacted soon enough, we may be able to put an end to an improper prosecution based on false or faulty allegations and/or a flaw in a search warrant or another investigative tool used by the prosecution.
If we cannot stop charges from going forward, we would initially work to ensure that any charges against you are filed in New Jersey state courts rather than federal courts. Federal computer crimes typically carry harsher punishment than charges at the state level. Federal white collar crime investigators also have better resources and expertise in computer crimes.
Because defense attorney Jonathan F. Marshall took an early interest in legal issues surrounding the use of computers and online activities, he and the legal team he has assembled have a strong understanding of the technical issues that frequently arise in computer crime cases. In addition, we regularly consult experienced computer professionals to help us uncover and explain the facts of computer crime cases, develop strategic defenses and testify as expert witnesses, if necessary.
Our defense strategy will depend on the facts of the case, the evidence against you and our ability to counter the most damaging aspects of the prosecution’s case. Because our team includes former prosecutors, we are better equipped than others to identify a weak case and to refute the prosecution’s allegations and evidence. Because we have good professional relationships with prosecutors across New Jersey, they will hear us out if we can suggest problems or alternative theories to their cases.
If there has been wrongdoing, we may be able to use evidence in your favor to negotiate reduced charges and punishment. We will keep you apprised of any offers from prosecutors and of the pros and cons of any resolution of the charges against you. If you have had no previous criminal convictions, there may be diversion programs or other options available to allow you to avoid prison time, including New Jersey’s Conditional Discharge (probation).
The choice of whether to accept a plea bargain agreement is always the client’s decision. Our defense team is always prepared to fight computer crime allegations in court. Any defendant has the right to a trial, at which the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. We will do everything legally allowed to win you an acquittal if your case must go before a judge and jury.
Contact Our New Jersey Computer Crimes Defense Lawyers Today
If you face computer-related criminal charges in New Jersey, you need a strong, dedicated legal defense developed by experienced N.J. white collar crime attorneys. The criminal defense team at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is made up of former New Jersey prosecutors and public defenders who, as defense lawyers, have worked computer crime cases involving Internet fraud, Internet theft, identity theft, credit card theft, pornography, misrepresentation, and other online activities.
Our seasoned New Jersey legal team can develop an aggressive and strategic criminal defense to help you avoid punishment for computer charges that you do not deserve. We can negotiate the best possible outcome for you if you have made mistakes in your use of computers.
To meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney, phone (877) 450-8301 or complete our online form. We have multiple offices across New Jersey. In a free initial legal consultation, an experienced New Jersey computer crimes attorney can explain the charges you face, your legal options, and how decisions you make now may impact your future. Contact us anytime 24/7 for the sound legal guidance you deserve.