For Those Charged With a Crime
Defense if Charged with Online Impersonation
Preventing Cyber Crime in Fort Bend – Call (346) 249-5544
The digital era has delivered numerous benefits that include improved productivity and real-time communication that fosters personal and professional relationships.
However, the Internet also has a downside, including the rapidly increasing illegal practice of cyberstalking. Also referred to as online impersonation, cyberstalking is a serious charge that requires the legal services of a Texas license criminal defense lawyer.
Make no mistake: The State of Texas takes online impersonation charges seriously. A 2009 law set the legal tone for online impersonation cases by defining what constitutes the crime of cyberstalking. According to Texas Penal Code Section 33.07, a person commits the crime of online impersonation if the person “uses the name or persona of another person,” without first gaining the person’s formal consent. Online impersonation is the intent to harm, defraud, or intimidate someone else. Most Texas residents do not understand the full legal implications of being charged with an online impersonation crime.
Examples of Online Impersonation
Texas law states there are several acts that can produce a criminal charge of online impersonation. Some of the illegal acts include logging into another person’s online account and conducting business in his or her name. Here are some other online impersonation acts the Texas Penal Code has made illegal:
- Developing a social media profile by using another person’s name
- Creating a website under the name of someone else
- Uploading messages under another person’s name
- Sending emails or other types of electronic communication by falsely attributing the messages sent to someone else
Penalties for an Online Impersonation Conviction
Depending on the severity of an online impersonation charge, a defendant can receive a Class A misdemeanor conviction or a third-degree felony conviction. A Class B misdemeanor conviction typically is associated with a charge of developing a social media profile or creating a website by using another person’s name. The harsher third-degree felony conviction usually accompanies a conviction for fraudulent electronic communications. In both cases, the penalties can result in jail time, as well as a substantial fine.
Online impersonation can lead to a crime called cyberbullying, which is the act of going online to harass, threaten, and/or intimidate another person. Texas has enacted a large number of cyberbullying statutes that apply to people of all ages, although some cyberbullying laws in the Lone Star State address student interactions. Taking effect in September of 2017, a Texas cyberbullying law called David’s Law mandates much harsher punishments for acts of online impersonation that involve cyber bullying.
Ways to Defend an Online Impersonation Charge
The crime of online impersonation has received national media coverage mostly because of the rapid increase in identity theft crimes. However, the crime of online impersonation in Texas deals with overly aggressive acts online conducted by someone who uses another person’s name. With the crime receiving more scrutiny by law enforcement officials, it is important to learn the different types of defenses used to exonerate our clients.
Freedom of Speech
There have been numerous legal challenges across the United States that claim some online impersonation statutes violate the free speech clause of the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. We can use this defense, if our team of online impersonation attorneys can prove the act was free speech, instead of a criminal act to stalk someone else online or impersonate someone to hurt their reputation.
When an Employee Acts on Behalf of an Employer
Texas Penal Code Section 33.07 states that an employee acting on behalf of an employer while conducting online activities is a viable defense for an online impersonation charge. This can happen when an employee posts content on a social media site. We can use this defense if a client acted for his or her employer when communicating with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or a telecommunications company.
Despite the fact there is typically not any physical violence associated with the crime of online impersonation, the act is still considered a charge worthy of criminal defense. This means the judge or jury hearing your case must find you guilty “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” Criminal defense attorney Adam Capetillo will work hard to plant the seeds of reasonable doubt by presenting evidence that demonstrates you were not responsible for cyberbullying or cyberstalking. It is possible for someone to use your computer to access another person’s online account information for committing the crime of online impersonation.
Illegal Search and Seizure
The key for the prosecution to win an online impersonation case involves presenting physical evidence that you used a specific computing device to commit the crime. This means a law enforcement agency must obtain a properly issued search warrant to retrieve any computing devices allegedly used to impersonate another person online. An improperly issued search warrant or the lack of a search warrant can cause a charge of online impersonation to be dropped.
Call Texas Cyber Crime Lawyer Today
Make sure to be proactive, if you face the criminal charge of online impersonation. Schedule a free initial consultation with Adam Capetillo to discuss your case. You can call our law firm at (346 249-5544 or submit the convenient online form.