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DC Federal Cybercrime Trials

There are an increasing number of federal cybercrime prosecutions being initiated in the US. Typically in DC, cybercrime cases are prosecuted by the US Attorney’s office. There are some state-level cybercrime cases, but it is mostly the US Attorney’s office that prosecutes. Whenever someone is subject to federal charges it is extremely important to work with a federally barred attorney in DC who can help build a strong trial defense.

Federal Prosecution

The prosecution in a federal cybercrime case uses electronic evidence. They use their subpoena power to obtain forensic records from a computer network, financial records of purchases, or records about other activities that were engaged in based on information that was taken. They also use evidence from witnesses, from people whose information was taken, or for someone who may have knowledge of people who are allegedly involved.

Defenses Against Cybercrime Charges

The primary focus of the defense is the identification of the person alleged to be responsible and proving that there is a reasonable doubt the person accused of doing the penetration didn’t actually do it. That is the primary concern. A lesser focus is on whether or not the network was actually penetrated, but the primary focus is on identification of the person responsible.

Elements of a Strong Defense

The elements for a strong defense depend on the particular case. Sometimes it’s showing that there are fifteen people that had access to a particular computer. If the government has established that there is one computer used to penetrate a network to obtain information, and the attorney can show that there are fifteen people who had access to the computer they can then question why the government is focused on their client in particular.

That is one way to raise reasonable doubt. Another defense is to show that there is no evidence that the client either obtained any information or had the benefit of any information. An attorney can show that someone else actually benefited from this particular information that was accessed. That would raise a reasonable doubt that their client was involved. A lawyer can also raise a motive defense.

Evidence for the Defense

Depending on the specific case, an attorney will look for evidence that would tend to show weaknesses in the government’s presentation. For example, if the government alleges that a certain type of information was actually taken or that the information in these networks was accessed at a secure time, the attorney can then look for information to show that the government’s version of the facts is not accurate. Because that can raise reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind.

A lawyer may also look for evidence that might corroborate or help establish a viable defense. Whether it is that someone else actually did it, or potentially that a penetration did not even occur, although that would probably not be the primary defense focus. An attorney would demonstrate that their client did not profit at all or benefit at all from the penetration, in order to make the argument that therefore there is reasonable doubt that their client was even involved in the penetration.

Constitutional Issues

There are a fair number of Fourth Amendment issues that arise in federal cybercrime trials in DC. A law enforcement agency typically tries to execute a search warrant and seize the computer or other things that belong to the accused individual, which can raise constitutional issues.

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