Have you ever checked your email on a friend’s laptop without permission? Have you ever tried to guess the password on someone else’s computer to access a document you needed? Have you ever “borrowed” your neighbor’s WiFi connection?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you’re pretty much like almost every one else. You weren’t necessarily trying to commit a crime, but in many states – including New Jersey — seemingly innocent activities like these are considered illegal. It might seem like less than nothing to you, but if you are a resident of New Jersey, the surprising fact is that accessing or signing onto a computer, system or network without permission is a crime! In fact, it is categorized as a relatively new type of charge – cybercrime.
Back in 2004, New Jersey State Police created the Cyber-Crimes Unit to investigate computer intrusions, viruses and fraud. Internet use was rapidly on the rise, and the police were getting inundated with complaints of net-related crimes such as:
- child endangerment
- internet fraud
- computer intrusion
- distributing viruses
Law enforcement came to the conclusion that, in those days, police departments were not sufficiently organized to respond efficiently to the increasing volume of cyber-related incidents. It was clear that there was a need to form multiple units in order to respond effectively.
Today, the New Jersey State Police Computer Crimes and High Technology Surveillance Bureau includes the Cyber Crimes Unit as well as Digital Technology Investigations Unit, and Electronic Surveillance Unit. As a result, the ability of the authorities in New Jersey to detect—and successfully prove—criminal Internet activities has risen dramatically.
In the event that you find yourself under investigation for cybercrime, don’t be fooled by the media. On television, police are portrayed at one of two extremes: either they have impossibly sophisticated equipment for tracking the Internet activity of every human on the planet, or they are incompetent pea-brained luddites who can hardly use a smartphone. The truth is, the vast majority of police departments, especially in small towns throughout New Jersey, don’t have any futuristic floating computer screens. However, they are far more sophisticated than most people assume. If you have been accused of an illegal Internet-related computer crime, it is quite likely the police have more evidence against you than you think.
If you are accused of any cybercrime, including fraud, ID theft or cyberbullying, it is imperative that you have legal representation from an attorney who knows how to deal with authorities at every level of technological sophistication. Call Atlantic City NJ criminal defense lawyer John W. Tumelty for a free consultation about your charges.