If you believe you are being investigated for committing a computer crime, there are several things you should know. First and foremost, you need to contact an attorney familiar with defending people accused of computer crimes. Technology is constantly changing and the laws must do so, too. You need the support of an attorney willing to keep up with the changes.
People use computers for just about everything these days, which leaves plenty of room for crime. Just about everything you can think of can be found online – medical records, financial transactions, personal identification – which means it is easy to access information to commit a crime. It is also easy to make mistakes and wind up in a situation that looks criminal, but was fully intended to be innocent.
If this happens, law enforcement will conduct an investigation to determine what happened and whether or not a crime was really committed. If you are the subject of this investigation, what can you expect?
Search and Seizure
Most computer crimes investigations begin with the search and seizure of a computer and other equipment. Computers may be seized as the result of a search warrant being issued, or investigators may request voluntary or consensual surrender of a computer. A person is never required to consensually relinquish a computer or other device that they have full ownership interest in. If seizure of a device is not necessary, law enforcement may conduct information recovery by accessing files or a website, without seizing any computers. Remember, for law enforcement to enter into your home or office, or to seize your computer or any other equipment, they must have a search warrant.
If you are accused of committing a computer crime, you can expect at least the room in your home or office to be considered a crime scene. This means no access will be allowed except to law enforcement during the investigation. Additionally, investigators will likely seize all devices and media during a search. This means that even computers, DVD, and other items will be seized during the execution of a search warrant.
It may be a crime to delete evidence of a crime from a computer. However, since the investigators will likely seize all devices it is advisable to back up all of your data in some sort of “off-site” storage. Many clients have had who have had computers seized by law enforcement have forever lost all their files including family photos, music, movies and other items all of which may have been completely legal.
Those who have been suspected of computer crimes in the past can expect those previous incidents to be brought up. Law enforcement likes to look for patterns to help build their case. They also look at whether you had the ability to commit the crime and whether or not there was motive.
You will be interrogated, which means you will be asked questions by law enforcement about the crime. It is important to have an attorney with you when this occurs. You are never required to answer investigative questions without a lawyer present. You should politely tell the police that you may be willing to answer their questions, but you want a lawyer present when you do so. Even if police ask to see you and ask a few questions, and it does not seem as if you are being accused, you still need someone there to guide you and help you answer questions. You never know when something you say will end up incriminating you down the road, even if you are not under arrest.
If you have been accused of a computer crime or you believe you are under investigation, you need to act fast. The best thing you can do the moment you think you are a suspect is to call an attorney. Contact David Lindsey to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.