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Leveling the playing field against the FBI

When many St. Louis residents imagine serious criminal charges, they envision the types of crimes that are often depicted on CSI, Law and Order and other television shows and movies. These crimes typically involve direct harm and injury to other persons.

Other less visible incidents can also be the subject of serious charges, however. Last week, for example, this blog discussed the case of a 17-year-old boy who was arrested on allegations that he hacked into his school's computer network. The boy was facing a charge of tampering with computer equipment due to the incident.

Even seemingly minor incidents can quickly turn into serious allegations of internet crime. To illustrate how serious these cases can be, the FBI often gets involved in cases to investigate allegations of cybercrime.

The FBI has even developed an entire division at its headquarters to investigate cybercrime. In addition, the FBI has a number of field offices with many agents who investigate hacking allegations, theft of intellectual property and personal information and other types of crime that may occur online. Other law enforcement agencies and task forces are also involved in these investigations.

Given the amount of resources the government puts into investigating cybercrime, those on the other side of the investigation need to understand their rights and their ability to level the playing field. Just because an investigation is conducted does not mean it is correct in its results, particularly when it comes to allegations of computer crime, where a person's identity and activity may be confused with another. Ultimately, individuals facing allegations of internet crime should consider holding the government to its strict burden of proof and present all effective defenses they can to the charges.

Source: FBI.gov, "Computer intrusions," accessed on May 8, 2015

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