In Ohio, cybercrime is identified as a wide-ranging crime relating to computers and computer use. The offense of cybercrime might be connected to a range of illegal activities, including cyber-stalling, the unauthorized use of computer systems and networks, the unlawful use or duplication of private material, and tampering with programs or services.
Our technology-driven society has caused cybercrime today to be far more wide-spread than it once was. Now that computers are equipped with various capabilities, it is possible for individuals to intentionally perform a criminal offense using advanced technology.
Laws and Penalties
The term “cybercrime” refers to many potential offenses, which means that the penalties involved for each offender will depend on the specific crime and the nature of that crime. For instance, unauthorized computer network or system use may not be as significant in regards to potential penalties, as computer-based stalking or tampering.
As with many different crimes across Ohio, it’s worth noting that the penalties that are given for cybercrime convictions can be aggravated by a number of important factors, such as the criminal history of the individual accused of a specific cybercrime, and the intent behind the action. For example, if a cybercrime is committed in an attempt to gain access to privileged information which might then be used for espionage purposes, the seriousness of the offense becomes far greater.
Without the presence of any extraneous factors, the different offenses associated with cybercrime are still capable of leading to a range of different punishment outcomes. For instance, while a conviction for tampering with computer files, services, or programs that do not belong to you is regarded as a class C felony, computer trespassing is a class E felony. In other words, a conviction of tampering may lead to up to fifteen years in prison, alongside a fine, whereas trespassing or unlawfully duplicating information might lead to up to four years in prison, with the possibility of a fine. Most of the time, in cases of cybercrime, any felonies committed that are not related to the selling or use of drugs will lead to a fine that is under $5,000, or double the amount that was gained from the conduct of the crime.
In the case of cyberstalking, any individual who is found guilty of using the internet to harass or threaten another individual will face potential fines and jail time, yet once again the maximum penalty will depend on the level of the crime and a range of other factors. In Ohio, the penalties for cyberstalking crimes are set as:
- Up to 180 days in jail for a first-degree misdemeanor
- Up to 18 months in jail for a fourth-degree felony
- If the crime in question was found to be motivated by sexual means, then a convicted cyber stalker might also have to be registered as a sex offender. In other words, even if the punishment for this crime is lenient, the results of such penalties can be very problematic to a person’s future.
As in many criminal circumstances, the courts of Ohio allow lawyers and defendants to present defenses in their favor when they are accused of a crime. In cybercrime, the most common defenses are similar to those for any other crime, such as:
- The defense that the accused believed that they had the authority to use a computer that they were actually restricted from using, or that they believed they had the right to reproduce, copy, or destroy a computer program.
- The defense of lack of intent – This means that the lawyer tries to prove that the actions engaged in by the people involved in the cybercrime case where not done with any intention to harm another person or party.
- A lack of knowledge – It is possible to argue that the defendants were not aware of what they were doing, or had accidentally done something wrong and did not know how to fix the issue.
- In many cases of cybercrime, the argument is that although some proof can be linked to an IP address, it can’t always be linked to the person who is associated with that IP address. The concept of cybercrime still leads to a lot of confusion within the courts when it comes to obtaining justice.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for cybercrime in Ohio is the same as the statute of limitations for any non-capital federal crime. That is, the statute of limitations stands at five years from the time at which the alleged offense took place.