Cyber Crime Lawyers
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Cyber crime is increasingly becoming detected and prosecuted in both the Magistrates’ Court and the County Courts of Victoria. Under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, it is an offence to use a carriage service (such as a mobile phone, social media site or other multi-media communication device) to offend, or harass a person. It is also an offence to groom a person under 16 or procure a person under 16 to engage in sexual activity using a carriage service. These charges are the most common cyber and online crimes prosecuted.
However, in the increasingly digital world, there has also been a significant increase in the prevalence of online fraud and “scam” activity. These offences are also being prosecuted, as law enforcement become more technologically astute and, therefore, able to effectively investigate cyber fraud.
Cyber and Online Crime can also be made up by offences under the State legislation of fraud, theft, stalking, making threats to kill and making threats to commit a sexual assault, all of which can be committed online or using a carriage service.
The Victoria Police have a dedicated E-Crime Unit and Child Exploitation Task Force specialising in offences which occur over the internet, mobile phones and multi-media devices. These offences are taken very seriously by the Court and can result in serious penalties, including imprisonment, and inclusion on the sex offenders register. They are usually prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, although Victoria Police do also have the power to prosecute and usually do for matters which are prosecuted through the Magistrates’ Court.
Commonly Prosecuted Offences under the Commonwealth Criminal Code
In the state of Victoria, electronic and computer-based offences are treated with great seriousness by the law. Regulating these crimes poses challenges due to the advancements in technology, which have made it easier to distribute data and information worldwide. The ease and potential harm associated with data transmission are among the key reasons why the State of Victoria imposes stringent regulations on computer crimes. Violations in this realm carry severe penalties, including imprisonment terms.
The Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) is the legislation that governs computer offences and outlines their corresponding penalties within the state of Victoria.
Listed below are some commonly prosecuted offences under the Commonwealth Criminal Code:
- Unauthorised access to, or modification of, restricted data;
- Unauthorised impairment of electronic communication;
- Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence; and
- Using a carriage service to groom or procure a person under 16 years.
In addition, as of 1 July 2015, a new cyber and online offence of threat to commit a sexual offence has come into effect, which is made out if a person makes a threat of rape or sexual assault, the accused intends that the alleged victim believes, or believes that the alleged victim will probably believe, that the accused will carry out the threat. Accordingly, threats made online of this sort will constitute a particular offence. Similarly, threats to disseminate intimate pictures of another person without their consent or the dissemination of this material without the person’s consent is an offence in Victoria punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment. Such offending can also give rise to civil proceedings in the Intervention Order Jurisdiction, where a victim of such crime can also apply to the Court for an Order restricting the perpetrator’s behaviour. Whilst an Intervention Order is a civil order, a breach of it will amount to a criminal offence.
Possible Defences for Cyber Crimes
Individuals facing charges related to computer offences have several potential defences at their disposal, such as:
- Mistaken Identity: Wherein the accused maintains that they are not the ones responsible for the crime. They may argue that someone else had access to their device, which was used to commit the offence. They may be able to point to IP addresses or any other identifying information to exonerate themselves.
- Permission to Act: Another possible defence for crimes involving authorisation is asserting that the accused had the necessary clearance or permission to perform the action in question. This consent can be either explicit or implied. For instance, if the defendant was an employee, agent, or subcontractor, they may rely on this defence.
- Lack of Possession: Regarding the possession of data with intent, a viable defence is lack of possession. The accused asserts that they did not have the disputed data in their possession.
- Lack of Intent: Lack of intent also serves as another defence against cyber crimes. The defendant can argue that it is impossible to prove their intention to use the data for malicious purposes.
- Duress and Mental Impairment: Duress and mental impairment can be used as arguments against cyber crimes. Note that the defence of duress can only be successful if the accused faced an immediate threat and had no other means of escape. Mental Impairment, whilst a difficult defence to run, can apply in circumstances where the person was labouring under a mental illness and did not understand the nature or wrongfulness of their actions.
Get in Touch With Galbally Parker Cyber Crime Lawyers
Cyber crime laws are complex and constantly evolving. The team at Galbally Parker specialises in this area of law and has in-depth knowledge and understanding of the legal framework surrounding cyber crimes. We can provide expert guidance and advice tailored to your specific case.
If you have a search warrant issued upon you, which relates to activities conducted over the internet, or you are contact by police in relation to such allegations, it is in your best interests to get prompt and competent legal advice from an expert criminal defence lawyer. Contact us today.