Defending yourself from a computer crime charge can be tricky business. For starters, there are generally two different types of computer crimes, and their paths can coincide with one another. Or you could be charged for one thing and enter into computer crime territory because somewhere along the way you ventured into ancillary computer activity through the use of a computer.
Arrested for Blogging
One particularly interesting case happened recently right here in the Dallas area. Justin Shafer, a computer services professional in the Dallas area fell under investigation for allegedly being a part of a hacker group that was accessing dental patient information on vulnerable servers.
Shafer’s supporters believed he was a hero for trying to expose “The DarkOverlord” group. The FBI thought he was part of the group. Ultimately, Shafer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of simple assault for sending a direct message to the public account of one of the investigating agent’s family members.
Shafer would later be released on bail only to be picked up again for railing against the FBI on his personal blog. A judge had ruled that he not make any posts on social media. Thinking he was free to blog about it, Shafer did. The event briefly placed him back in jail before being released under tighter stipulations.
While The DarkOverlord charge still hasn’t played out in the public, the case brings to mind some concerning facts about committing a computer crime and not even knowing it.
The FBI did three raids on Shafer’s home. Still, they haven’t been able to make charges that he’s part of the group stick. Nevertheless, Shafer committed a computer crime — albeit a smaller one in scope — when he attempted to impede the investigation by making personal contact with a key family member of an agent.
He further landed in hot water by not understanding the scope of the judge’s first order. While it could be said that it was the judge who misunderstood when he limited online activity to social media, Shafer was playing with fire when he inserted himself back into the public sphere of the investigation.
The Computer Crime Lesson Here
When you believe you’ve been wrongly accused of a computer crime, it’s easy to lose your cool. And while nothing that Shafer may have done to this point has resulted in a serious conviction, it’s important to realize that escalating behaviors bring only more aggravation to your life.
If you’re under investigation, the best thing you can do is reach out to an attorney trained in defense strategies for computer crimes. John Teakell is that man, and he’s happy to help. Contact him online or drop by his 2911 Turtle Creek Boulevard office any time to discuss your case.