Computer and internet capabilities have been growing exponentially for years, and so has cybercrime. State and federal law enforcement work diligently to prevent cybercrime from destabilizing and destroying this growth and people’s lives. Although often successful, these cyber police efforts sometimes go too far. If you have been charged with a cybercrime, a cybercrime lawyer from our team is ready to help.
Why Choose Cody Villalon?
Formidable Defense in Your Time of Need
When the government charges you with a cybercrime, your freedom and liberties are on the line. You need an experienced cybercrime defense lawyer to come to your aid, one who knows how to mount a formidable defense against the state.
Attorney Cody Villalon has defended clients in over 1,000 cases and understands how overwhelming criminal charges can be. He also knows how to methodically dismantle prosecutors’ cases and win favorable outcomes for his clients.
Choosing Attorney Cody Villalon means choosing an internet crimes lawyer with:
- More than a decade of direct, exclusive criminal defense experience
- A compassionate and caring attitude
- A winning record at trial
- 24/7 access for clients
- Reasonable, transparent pricing.
Understanding Virginia Cybercrime
Virginia cybercrime activity is classified by the Virginia Computer Crimes Act. The act details several activities considered to be crimes within the state. The act also has a civil component that creates causes of action and allows for the recovery of damages.
These are some of the crimes detailed by the Virginia Computer Crimes Act:
Computer trespass refers to situations where a person maliciously or deceptively engages in one or more of the following activities without the authority to do so:
- Removal, halting, or disabling of computer data, programs, and software from a computer or a computer network, either permanently or temporarily.
- Causing a computer or computer network to malfunction, regardless of the length of time of the malfunction.
- Altering, deleting, or disabling computer data, programs, or software.
- Creating or altering financial instruments or electronic transfers of funds.
- Using a computer or a computer network to cause harm to another person.
- Using a computer or a computer network to engage in the unauthorized copying of computer data, programs, or software found in a computer or a computer network.
- Installing or causing to be installed computer key-tracking software.
- Installing or causing to be installed on someone else’s computer software for the purpose of controlling that computer to damage another computer or disabling or damaging a computer’s ability to share, communicate, and transmit data to other computers or computer-related equipment and devices.
As you can see, the definition of computer trespass covers many situations, which allows prosecutors and police to charge people somewhat broadly. However, Attorney Cody Villalon is accustomed to dismantling vague criminal charges based on broad strokes and not specific evidence of criminal activity.
Pleading to or being convicted of computer trespass will likely net you a class 1 misdemeanor on your record and may see you spending up to one year in jail. There is also a fine of up to $2,500, and you may be forced to pay restitution. However, computer trespass can be charged as a class 6 felony under certain circumstances.
First, if a criminal trespass caused at least $1,000 in property damage and was done maliciously, the prosecutor can charge computer trespass as a class 6 felony. Additionally, maliciously installing software on six or more computers can also see the misdemeanor charge upgraded to a felony, as does maliciously installing keystroke software on someone else’s computer. Additionally, when the victim is a local government, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or a utility services provider, the act can be charged as a felony.
Computer fraud occurs in Virginia when someone uses a computer or a computer network without authority to:
- Obtain or acquire property or services through the use of false pretenses;
- Commit embezzlement or larceny;
- Engage in the conversion of the property of another.
The crime of computer fraud is largely punished depending on the value of the property or services involved in the crime. For example, any crime of computer fraud involving property or services in excess of $199 will likely be charged as a class 5 felony. However, when the goods or services have a value of less than $200, the defendant will be looking at a misdemeanor charge.
Theft of Computer Services
Theft of computer services occurs when a person willfully acquires computer services but does not have the authority to do so. Upon a conviction or a guilty plea, the defendant can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor if the services are valued at less than $2,500. If the computer services have a value of $2,500 or more, the defendant will be looking at a class 6 felony.
Harassment by Computer
Harassment by computer occurs when a person uses a computer or a computer network to communicate profane and lewd language. It also occurs when a person uses a computer or computer network to make obscene gestures or threaten illegal or immoral acts. This particular computer crime will result in a class 1 misdemeanor.
Personal Trespass by Computer
Personal trespass by computer is a serious crime because it involves physical injury. Essentially, any person who uses a computer or a computer network to cause physical injury to another is guilty of personal trespass by computer. This charge only exists as a felony, either a class 6, when done unlawfully but not maliciously, or a class 3 felony, when malice is present.
Other Common Cybercrimes in Virginia
The following are some of the other types of cybercrime increasing in popularity as the internet and computer technology evolve:
- Identity Theft: Identity theft is an age-old problem. But the computer and the internet have made it easier for identity thieves to commit crimes and get away with them.
- Theft of Tax Refunds: By stealing someone’s Social Security number, a thief can cause the victim’s tax refund to be sent somewhere else besides the victim.
- Intellectual Property Theft: Theft of intellectual property, such as copyrights and patents, is on the rise and made easier with the use of computers and connectivity.
Regardless of the charge you are facing, you need skilled representation to safeguard your rights and keep the prosecutor and police in check!
How Our Internet Crimes Lawyer Can Help
The most important role of an internet defense lawyer is to shield their client from the charges and penalties. Attorney Cody Villalon fights vigorously for the outcome his clients need and fiercely negotiates with the prosecution for mitigated results, which may include a reduction in charges or even a dismissal. He and his team also handle all aspects of your defense case, including:
- Investigating the circumstances of the alleged crime.
- Appearing at hearings, such as the arraignment, preliminary hearing, and other important meetings.
- Aggressively negotiating with the state for a plea deal.
- Deposing witnesses.
- Representing you at trial if plea negotiations fail.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers You Need
Cybercrime charges are frightening and confusing. To help, we have listed and answered some of the most common questions we receive from our clients. Please read through them and give us a call for more information.
Do I really need to hire an internet crimes lawyer?
Yes. Your rights and freedoms are at stake whenever you face any type of criminal charge. Without an experienced cybercrime defense lawyer representing you, you must take on the prosecutor by yourself. Because prosecutors typically seek harsh sentences in cybercrime cases, you could be looking at significant penalties without an attorney.
Unfortunately, many defendants believe that they won’t have to do the time if they did not commit the crime. However, this is not necessarily true. The prosecution can present evidence that you committed a crime even when you did not commit the crime. You need a cybercrime lawyer to build a defense for you that will challenge the weak points of the prosecution’s case.
How much does a cybercrime defense lawyer charge?
It is difficult to give a direct answer for how much a cybercrime lawyer costs. Each case is different and requires different things from an internet crimes lawyer. That said, misdemeanor representation could cost from a couple thousand dollars to nearly $10,000, depending on the exact nature of the circumstances. Felony charges, on the other hand, can cost you well into the five-figure range.
Keep in mind that a defense attorney’s price should be considered in the context of their experience and record. The least expensive cybercrime defense lawyers should probably be avoided if they have no experience defending these cases. In other words, experience typically trumps price when searching for the right lawyer for cybercrime.
What happens if I am accused of a cybercrime?
If you find yourself accused of a cybercrime, you can expect to have areas of your private life exposed to law enforcement. Because cybercrimes deal with computers, your computer, laptop, or tablet will likely be seized and searched for evidence. Additionally, your cell phone will also likely end up in the hands of law enforcement for a while.
If the charge you are facing deals with minors and sex, you can expect the state to go heavy-handed against you. The same can be said if the federal government gets involved. Federal prosecutors are notorious for seeking harsh sentences for cybercrime offenders when children and sex are involved.
What is the statute of limitations for cybercrimes in Virginia?
If the cybercrime is classified as a misdemeanor, the statute of limitations will usually be one year. However, unlike most other states, Virginia does not have a statute of limitations on most of its felonies. This means the state can pursue felony cybercrime charges years after they occur.
Call us anytime to get answers from a lawyer for cybercrime!
Speak with a Cybercrime Lawyer Today!
Law enforcement at the state and federal levels vigorously pursues cybercrime charges and seeks stiff penalties for convictions. If you are facing a cybercrime charge, do not delay in contacting an experienced lawyer for cybercrime to start on your defense. Let Attorney Cody Villalon and his team fight for the most optimal outcome in your case. Call (804) 316-0765 to set up an appointment today.