In our last post we began speaking about the importance of working with an experienced attorney when facing prosecution for computer crimes. In addition to the reasons we’ve already mentioned for this—the variety and complexity of federal laws targeting computer crime and the need to navigate federal sentencing guidelines—there are other special issues that come into play in computer crime cases.
Jurisdiction is one such issue. Some federal statutes dealing with computer crimes involve interstate or foreign jurisdictional requirements. In some cases, use of the Internet to further criminal activity may be enough to satisfy the jurisdictional requirement, but not necessarily in every case. For defendants, it is important to have an advocate who will expose weaknesses in a criminal case when it comes to this issue. For crimes alleged to occur outside the United States, it is also important to navigate the question of whether or not a law applies to such activity.
Determination of venue, which refers to the county or district in which a criminal case is to be heard, is another important issue since the venue selection controls the population pool from which the jury will be selected. Venue determination is governed by constitutional provisions, statutes and court rules, but the question of what venue is the proper venue can be disputed in some cases, particularly when it comes to cases where it isn’t entirely clear where an offense was committed—such as in cases involving network crimes—or when offenses are alleged to have occurred in multiple states or counties.
Different federal laws also have different statutes of limitations, and it is important for defendants to have guidance and advocacy when dealing with this issue as well.
Office of Legal Education Executive Office for United States Attorneys, “Prosecuting Computer Crimes,” Accessed Nov. 18, 2015.