In today’s modern world of technology and data-mining, we all wander around with virtual counterparts — amalgamations of our searches, locations, records, and other sensitive information. This allows us ease of access and convenience; however, on the other hand it gives companies the chance to specifically target their ads to us by using our personal information. This trend has fostered a whole new branch of crime centered around the unlawful acquisition or use of any of that information, and someone charged with such a crime could find themselves in water much hotter than they expected.
When people believe their privacy has been breached in any way, they tend to react aggressively and are all-too-ready to take the accused to court. The laws are on their side. You should know how to get it on yours.
Defining identity theft and other internet crimes
When it comes to internet crimes, the net is wider than you may think. The internet is such an integral part of our lives and our virtual footprints, and there is so much that can be affected by access unlawfully granted. In Tennessee, there are four major kinds of internet crimes:
- Distressful images, a Tennessee crime pertaining to transmitting or displaying troubling images to a person with the intent of causing, or resulting in, emotional distress.
- Embezzlement, or stealing from one’s place of business, is not always internet-based, but with the majority of businesses moving to cloud-based, online bookkeeping, it is becoming more common. Any unlawful use of a company credit card would also apply.
- Child pornography or luring a minor with sexual intent.
- Identity theft, which involves accessing, selling, or otherwise using another’s private information without consent. This can mean collecting benefits under someone’s Social Security number, using their bank information, drivers’ license, or trying to benefit with any other sensitive document.
This is not a comprehensive list, but it shows the general theme of what an internet crime, especially identity theft, can mean. Those charged — or convicted — could find themselves facing social or professional consequences for the rest of their lives.
However, with some internet crimes, there may be a fine line between what Is unlawful, especially when it comes to the use of email lists and utilizing clickbait schemes. In a prosecution, the government will have to prove a culpable mental state in order to convict, and a good criminal defense lawyer can help sort out these issues.
The Department of Justice identifies the following common identify theft and fraud tactics as unlawful:
- Creating and sending “spam” emails to trick others into supplying credit card or other personal information without actually providing a service or product in return.
- “Shoulder-surfing,” or trying to read and remember someone’s information in a public place, like a PIN from an ATM or a credit card number they say out loud on the phone.
- Retrieving and activating discarded pre-approved credit cards meant for someone else or otherwise intercepting their mail.
- Falsifying any applications for loans or credit cards with someone else’s information
Again, this is not a comprehensive list. If you have been accused of identity theft, trust a Sevierville internet crimes attorney to help figure out exactly what the prosecution believes you are guilty of, so they may work to clear your name.
What are the penalties for identity theft in Tennessee?
Because of how sensitive and important personal information can be, Tennessee takes identity theft crimes incredibly seriously. Any crime of identity theft is considered a Class D felony in our state. A conviction of that level almost guarantees you at least two years of prison time, alongside any fines or other penalties the judge decides on. Some identity theft offenses are Class C felony offenses carrying more time.
People take their sense of privacy and personal property very seriously, and they expect their autonomy to be respected. If you try to fight allegations as serious as identity theft alone, you could be dealing with the financial, personal, and social consequences of that loss for the rest of your life.
If you are accused of identity theft, the best thing you can do is hire aggressive, experienced representation as quickly as possible to fight on your behalf. The sooner an attorney can get started on building your case, the sooner they can defend it and get your life back on track. At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, our Tennessee internet crime defense attorneys are trustworthy legal counsel for all who need it, all over the state. We have offices in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Seymour, Kingsport, Pigeon Forge, Greeneville, Bristol, and Johnson City, because we take pride in being able to be there for our clients — wherever they may be. To learn more about how we can defend your case, call us today at 865-428-8780 or use our contact form. We look forward to helping you.
Attorney Bryce W. McKenzie received his JD from University of Tennessee College of Law, and has been a clerk for the Court of Criminal Appeals. He is admitted in Tennessee, Federal Court, and the US Court of Appeals. Read more about Bryce W. McKenzie.