What are internet offences/cybercrimes?
In today’s society, the internet is linked to almost everything we do. As such, Internet offences, also known as cybercrimes, are on the rise. Internet offences are essentially criminal offences where a significant part of the commission of the offence is done through the internet and technological devices. While our traditional conception of crime usually involves face-to-face contact and immediate and identifiable parties, it is important to recognize that many offences in the Criminal Code can also be facilitated online under the guise of anonymity.
Examples of internet offences
Internet offences and cybercrimes cover a wide range of criminal activities. A few examples include:
- Unauthorized use of a computer and mischief in relation to data
- Found under sections 342.1 and 430(1.1) of the Criminal Code, these offences broadly criminalize hacking and the destruction of data.
- Uttering threats, criminal harassment, and “revenge porn”
- Uttering threats and criminal harassment can take place through electronic means. In fact, the advent of the internet has made perpetrating these crimes even easier, and cyberbullying is typically prosecuted under these provisions. The Criminal Code also added a new offence in the last five years to deal with the rise of “revenge porn” (which involves distributing and/or posting intimate images online). It is now a crime to share and publish an intimate image without consent, according to section 162.1 of the Criminal Code.
- Child-related sexual offences
- Nowadays, child pornography charges typically stem from online activity. In addition, the offence of “child luring” (found under section 172.1) makes it a crime to use telecommunication to commit a sexual offence. Child luring cases often involve chat rooms, and there are a string of cases where individuals were caught by officers posing as underage girls.
For more information on child pornography, please visit X.
- Voyeurism is found under section 162(1) of the Criminal Code, making it a criminal offence to secretly watch or record another person using electronic means.
- Money laundering and fraud
- Cyberspace is also fertile ground for committing monetary crimes. It is now much easier to transfer money or defraud someone due to the level of anonymity the internet seems to provide.
What happens if the police failed to follow the law while collecting the evidence?
Evidence, such as data on your computer, can be used in order to prove the charges against you. Just like other evidence, the police require a search warrant. The Supreme Court of Canada has even ruled that the police must have a warrant to ask internet service providers for your subscriber information. In that case, R. v. Spencer (2014), the police flagged an IP address associated with child pornography on a file-sharing site; they then asked Shaw for information of the person linked to that address. If the police have not respected your Charter rights, the court could exclude the evidence. This means that the unlawfully obtained evidence cannot be used against you at your trial, which, in turn, will drastically weaken the Crown’s case against you.
Your technological devices, as well as your subscriber information, can have highly private information linked to them, and you generally have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to them. A lawyer can advise you of your Charter rights. Moreover, they can evaluate your case for any breaches and bring them to light—offering your best chance of success.
It’s vital to hire a lawyer
Criminal offences involving the internet can be complicated; they often involve voluminous disclosure that is difficult to understand. It is important to seek professional advice from a lawyer about your rights from the beginning.
A lawyer can also do much more. They can:
- Work to secure your release with the most favourable conditions;
- Help you navigate the criminal justice system;
- Ensure that the Crown meets its disclosure obligations;
- Use the rules about policing and search warrants to determine whether there was a Charter violation in the way that the police conducted their investigation;
- Speak to the Crown on your behalf, negotiate, and advise you of your options;
- Use their understanding of technology-related issues, assess all the evidence against you, and build a strong defence, so the charges are withdrawn or you are acquitted;
- Gather further evidence to support your version of the events and consult technology and digital forensic experts;
- Obtain a more lenient sentence in the event a guilty plea or conviction is entered.
All criminal cases are complex and fact specific. We have provided general information about internet offences. As technology changes, so will the law. You need someone who has their pulse on legal and technological developments. Hiring a lawyer provides your best chance at mounting a successful defence. For more information about how we can help, please contact our team.