More and more people are caught up in situations where they are accused of criminal activity that takes place over the Internet. Federal agents and local police departments now have specialized units that prowl the Internet, trying to find predators or lure potential suspects into acts that result in criminal prosecutions. Internet crimes can run the gamut from sex crimes or drug offenses to white collar fraud and identity theft.
In the past, sex crimes involved allegations about the activities of two people in the same physical place. The Internet has changed much about the way that sex crimes are investigated or prosecuted. The press frequently reports stories about people prosecuted for downloading or sending child pornography, soliciting minors for sex, or traveling in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity. Television programs regularly portray these investigations.
Many cases involving the Internet are prosecuted in the federal court system. In the past several years, Congress has enacted a series of extremely stringent laws in this area. These laws impact the potential sentence for persons accused of such crimes. The recent statutes can also restrict a person's activities, often for the remainder of their life. The laws enacted over the past decade also can prevent the lawyer from using certain evidence or lines of defense. Finally, these changes now give far more power to a person who is the victim of such crimes. Many of these recent changes are found in laws known as "The Protect Act" and "The Adam Walsh Act." A person accused of a sex crime that is being prosecuted in the federal court system needs to have an attorney who is wellversed in these laws and such types of cases.
An increasing number of Internet sex crimes are also being prosecuted in the state courts. Some of these cases involve the use of standard state-law crimes such as statutory rape, child molestation and the like. However, more and more of these state-court Internet sex cases involve more complex laws like stalking and the impermissible accessing of private computer information.
No matter what court system is involved, many Internet crimes result in massive publicity. The attorney handling such a case needs to be prepared for the onslaught of cameras and reporters who are often tipped off by the prosecutor's office. A person accused of such a crime needs an attorney who knows how to handle the media, and how to do so in a way that respects the human emotions and trauma that accompany such prosecutions.
Online Pharmacies and Drug Sales
The Internet has also provided new avenues of prosecution for drug offenses, as the federal government has targeted online pharmacies and persons who use the Internet to distribute prescription medications and other drugs. Recent federal Internet drug sale laws make it illegal to distribute controlled substances that are prescription drugs over the Internet without a "valid prescription" or to advertise for such distribution.
Economic Crimes Involving the Internet
More and more commerce takes place over the Internet. As a result, more and more potential crimes likewise take place based on the electronic connection between two or more businesses or persons.
Lawyers handling such cases need to keep abreast of the rapid changes in the law relating to such matters. Technology has changed far more quickly than the law, and as a result, the attorney handling such cases needs to be far more advanced in some areas than the average lawyer. Additionally, both the federal and state courts now use newer laws involving the acquisition and use of evidence relating to such matters. Lawyers defending a person accused of an Internet economic crime need to know how older and more recent laws impact these very complex cases.
Internet crimes require specific and very creative defense strategies. Perhaps even more importantly, the lawyer needs to recognize the toll such accusations place upon the client and his family and loved ones. Paul Kish and Carl Lietz have handled many of these difficult cases. We recognize that each person charged in such prosecutions needs a vigorous advocate who will try to understand what happened, who knows the law, and who is willing to use creative, and if needed, aggressive strategies to help solve the case. Feel free to call us at (404) 588-3991 or contact us online.