Cyber Crimes in Connecticut
Connecticut has a long list of offenses that fall under the purview of cyber crimes which are crimes that involve a computer and a network. Cell phones are also included in this category. More specifically, cyber crime is defined in a broad sense as offenses that are committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, or loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as Internet (networks including chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups) and mobile phone (Bluetooth/SMS/MMS). These offenses may threaten a person's physical or financial health or national security. These criminal charges and the issues surrounding them have become high profile, particularly those involving child pornography, child grooming, sexting and sextortion, hacking, copyright infringement and prohibited surveillance.
While some police departments are more sophisticated than others, overall, law enforcement has stayed on top of understanding and knowing how to charge people who misuse cell phones and the internet. The crime is considered to have two locations, either of which can be the place of the offense – first, the initiator and/or second, the recipient. This means that if a person in one state is using the internet to harass another person in a different state, the police can decide which state has jurisdiction. This also includes people doing illegal cyber activities in different towns. When the target is larger like hacking a national bank or security system of a national credit card company, the crime can and often will be a federal offense.
The crimes associated with illegal cyber activity often partner with crimes historically associated with all unlawful behavior. For example, a person can be charged with stalking in Connecticut either by physically surveilling another person from a physical distance like sitting in a car near that person's residence, or using a computer or cell phone to surveil their online accounts without that person's knowledge or consent. The following actions which have been illegal for many years now have a cyber counterpart:
Stalking in Connecticut
Stalking occurs when the offender pursues another in a stealth manner so as to avoid the victim knowing who is pursuing him or her. Using your computer to do this will have the same penalties as using any other mechanism where you avoid detection like hiding in a yard, riding by on a bike or car. Depending on the degree of stalking with which you are charged, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and have to serve jail time.
Stalking 1 CGS 53a-181c, Stalking 2 CGS 53a-181d(b)(1), Stalking 3 CGS 53a-181e
Connecticut Cyber Crime Lawyer: Harassment
Harassment is defined as annoying or bothering someone in a constant and repeated way. While sexual harassment in the work place is generally litigated in civil court, a person who feels harassed can get you charged with this offense even if there have only been 2 instances of unwanted contact. Harassment 1 generally involves repeated threats to kill someone while misdemeanor harassment is less aggressive and can be done in cyber space using Facebook, Twitter and other forms of unwanted communication involving a computer or cell phone.
Harassment 1 53a-182b, Harassment 2 (Obscenity) 53a-183(a)(1),
Harassment 2 (Written) 53a-183(a)(2), Harassment 2 (Telephone) 53a-183(a)(3).
Violation of Protective or Restraining Order in Connecticut
Violating an order of the court to have no contact with another person is a felony whether the order was issued by the criminal or civil court. It can involve a large fine and jail time of up to five years. Charges are brought regularly against people who use a cell phone to text the protected party or who use the internet via Facebook or other social media, email or any other place the protected party might see inappropriate or offensive material pertaining to them. To be charged with this offense, you do not have to post or communicate anything with the person's name. It is enough that they know or can convince a law enforcement officer you are posting or communicating about them based on the relationship they had with you.
Violation of a Criminal Protective Order 53a- 223, Violation of a Standing Criminal Protective Order 53a- 223a, Criminal Violation of a Restraining Order 53a- 223b.
Other Types of Cyber Crimes in Connecticut
- Abuse of a Blind, Disabled or Intellectually Disabled Person 53a- 321, 53a-322, 53a-323 occurs when you use an electronic device to bother someone who has physical or mental challenges. This can be someone with whom you had a romantic relationship or not. If your unpleasant next door neighbor is challenged in some way and you post a video of them online showing that disability so your friends can get a laugh, you could get charged with this offense if the neighbor finds out about it.
- Intimidation Based On Bigotry or Bias 53a- 181j, 53a-181k, 53a-181l should be self-explanatory, but using the internet or other form of cyber-communication to cause fear or discomfort to another person or persons due to their race, i.e. name-calling using derogatory racial slurs is illegal. It can also involve other personal traits like their religion, sexual preference, etc. It can also possibly rise to the level of what a judge may consider to be a hate crime.
- Risk of Injury to a Minor 53a-21(a)(1), 53a-21(a)(2) is a broad offense that can mean anything from taking naked pictures of children to smoking cigarettes in your car in the presence of someone under 17. Any time you are in the presence of a minor, you are expected to be on your most civilized behavior and even an accidental act can cause you to be charged with this felony which carries up to five years in jail and a fine. So if you threaten a minor on facebook or other social media or text them a naked picture of yourself, you can be charged with this crime.
- Coercion 53a-192 occurs when you persuade someone to do something that they have the legal right from not doing, or you persuade someone not to do something they have the legal right to do. It means the person is acting in an involuntary manner because of your use of threats or force. In cyber world, an example of this is when a person convinces another person that if they don't take off their clothes in front of a web cam, the aggressor will show up and harm them, or if they don't take a credit card from their parents and give the info to the aggressor for an online purchase, the aggressor will harm them. It can be a Class A misdemeanor or a Class D felony punishable by fines and/or prison time.
- Trafficking in Persons 53a-192a occurs when a person compels or induces another person to engage in conduct involving more than one occurrence of sexual contact with one or more third persons, or provide labor or services that such person has a legal right to refrain from providing. In cyber world, this means the wrongdoer is using a computer or cell phone to accomplish this crime and is a Class B felony.
- Enticing a Minor 53a – 90a is charged against a defendant who uses an interactive computer service to knowingly persuade, induce, entice or coerce any person under eighteen years of age, or who the actor reasonably believes to be under eighteen years of age, to engage in prostitution or sexual activity. It is a Class B felony and if the victim is under the age of 13, the court will impose a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
- Using a Computer for Terrorist Purpose 53a- 301 while this does not occur to often, in a post 9/11 world, the government is acutely aware of its possibility due, in part, to the fact that the internet and computers were used against the United States by the people who planned and carried out the airplane attacks on the World Trade Center. A person is guilty of computer crime in furtherance of terrorist purposes when such person, with intent to intimidate or coerce the civilian population or a unit of government, commits computer crime promoting violence with a political aim. It is a Class B felony with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 years.
- Sexting Between Teenagers 53a-196h is a law passed by the Connecticut Legislature in order to address this common occurrence between teens. Many teens and parents are not aware that texting pictures of one's sex organs, breasts and buttocks is a crime even between teens of the same age because it is considered to be child pornography. This law addresses sexting between senders of pics ages 13 to 15 yrs old and recipients aged 13 to 17 yrs old. The law says that a teenager aged 13 to 15 may not send a sexual image of him/herself to another teen aged 13 to 17. This is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,000.00 fine. Another possible outcome is that the teen may be committed to the custody of the Department of Children and Families for up to 18 months or longer.
- Possessing Child Pornography 53a-196d-f is a statute that spells out the consequences for possessing child pornography which is defined as sexually explicit images of children under 18 yrs of age. It does not matter if the person in possession believed the pictures were of people over 18 yrs old. One important part of this law provides that the person in possession must have knowledge they possess these images. If the state cannot prove the offender knew he or she was in possession of these images, the offender will not be convicted. The law is divided into three categories. First degree possession is when the offender has 50 or more sexual pictures of children or any number of pictures showing force or the threat of force and is a Class B felony with a 5 year mandatory minimum jail sentence. Second degree possession is when the offender has 20 to 50 pictures of children and is a Class C felony with a 2 year mandatory minimum sentence. Third degree possession occurs when an offender has less than 20 images and is a Class D felony with a one year mandatory minimum sentence.
- Sextortion or unlawful dissemination of an intimate image 53a-189c refers to a form of blackmail in which sexual information or images are used to extort sexual favors from the victim. Social media and text messages are often the source of the sexual material and the threatened means of sharing it with others. A violation occurs when a person who has a sexual image on an electronic device of another individual threatens to disseminate or disseminates that image to third parties without the consent of the person in the image. It is currently a Class A misdemeanor, however, recently the CT legislature heard presentations by individuals pushing to have it become a Class D felony.
Contact a Connecticut Cyber Crime Lawyer Now
If you are charged with any of these cyber offenses in Connecticut, I can help you like I've helped many other people. Call me, Erin Field, at one of the phone numbers on this site, or fill out the contact form, and I will speak with you regarding your case.