There are many ways in which a person can use a computer to commit a crime. For instance, one may use an internet connection in Illinois to bully or otherwise harass individuals throughout the world. Computers can also be used to commit offenses such as identity theft and creating or sharing child pornography. The Department of Justice has a task force that helps parents protect their children from becoming victims of online predators.
If an offense is deemed to be a hate crime, it could be investigated by the FBI. If convicted of a hate crime, a defendant could be sentenced to a mandatory minimum amount of time in prison. This is because these offenses are considered to be especially heinous. The FBI keeps detailed statistics about hate crimes as well as occurrences of domestic terrorism. Those who use computers can take basic steps to protect themselves and their identities.
For example, it is never a good idea to share personal information such as a Social Security number. It is also never a good idea to share bank account or credit card numbers over any network that is not properly secured. An antivirus program can keep a device protected from malware or spyware programs that could be used to steal financial or other sensitive data.
Individuals who commit hate crimes or offenses that involve online child pornography may face federal charges. Upon conviction, such offenses can result in mandatory minimum prison sentences and large fines. An attorney may be able to help a defendant reach a plea agreement in a case or take other steps to clear his or her name. Legal counsel might do this by asking to have evidence suppressed before or during a trial. This could significantly weaken the case against an individual.