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5 Social Media Crimes That Can Lead to Criminal Charges

5 Social Media Crimes That Can Lead to Criminal Charges

What Crimes Are Committed Through Social Media?

Given that 72% of Americans are active social media users, it’s safe to say that today’s digital age has a profound impact on our day-to-day lives. From the way we communicate to the way we consume information, technology and social media have changed the way we interact with each other and the world around us.

While virtual platforms can offer us the opportunity to connect, they can also open the door to a range of safety and privacy issues. When it comes to protecting your rights online, it can be easy to overlook the legal risks tied to our online activities, as one online post can result in serious criminal charges and land even the most well-meaning citizen in hot water.

When can social media result in criminal chargesKeep reading to learn more about computer crimes and how you can defend your online rights in South Carolina.

What Is a Computer Crime?

Computer crimes, also known as cybercrimes or internet crimes, are serious criminal offenses entailing the use of computers, networks, or other digital technology. In South Carolina, computer crimes can range from identity theft to computer fraud to internet-based child exploitation.

South Carolina Laws & Penalties for Computer Crimes

Under S.C. Code of Laws §16-16-20, a computer crime can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime committed.

Computer crimes in the first degree are punishable by up to a $50,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. Criminal offenses like cyberbullying and cyberstalking can result in serious legal repercussions, including jailtime and hefty fines, making it all the more important for South Carolina residents to understand the penalties for unlawful online and social media activity.

5 Social Media Crimes That Can Lead to Criminal Charges

Social media crimes are on the rise, and it’s important to understand the various ways in which social media can lead to criminal consequences under state and federal laws. From online threats and cyberbullying to fraud and illegal purchases, there are numerous ways that social media can lead to criminal penalties in South Carolina.

Consider the following 5 common social media crimes in South Carolina:

#1. Cyberstalking

It can be surprising to consider how bullying has evolved over time. What began as conflict in the classroom, schoolyard, or workplace has made its way to the internet, offering bullies new and powerful ways to harass and hurt others online.

In South Carolina, cyberstalking is defined as the use of electronic communication to harass or stalk another person. According to South Carolina's 2003-2004 Bill 57, it’s unlawful to use electronic communication to “harass, intimidate, torment or embarrass” another person. Cyberstalking can lead to significant legal consequences and is punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000 and/or a maximum prison term of 2 years.

#2. Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is defined as the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. It can take many forms, including offensive name-calling, spreading false rumors about someone, receiving explicit images, and more.

It is important to note that while some states have specific laws related to cyberbullying, South Carolina does not have any specific laws that address this issue. However, existing laws such as those related to harassment and stalking can be used to prosecute offenders.

Penalties for Cyberbullying & Cyberstalking

A person who engages in cyberbullying or cyberstalking in South Carolina can face criminal charges for harassment, stalking, or unlawful communications. Depending on the severity of the offense, penalties may include jail time, fines, and/or community service.

Additionally, schools are required to incorporate information about district policies regarding harassment and bullying into their curriculum. If a student is found guilty of cyberbullying, they may be subject to disciplinary action from the school.

#3. Hacking & Fraud

Hacking refers to accessing or attempting to access all or part of a computer, computer system, or computer network without express or implied permission. It is considered a criminal offense and the legal penalties for hacking vary depending on the severity of the crime.

For example, if the value of the data stolen is less than $1,000, this may lead to a misdemeanor conviction punishable by fines up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 5 years. If the value of the data stolen is greater than $1,000, the offense will likely be charged as a felony punishable by fines up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Those convicted may also face civil lawsuits from victims seeking damages for any losses incurred due to their actions. It’s important for individuals in South Carolina to protect themselves online by using strong passwords, avoiding suspicious links, and refraining from downloading unknown files.

#4. Purchasing or Selling Illegal Contraband

While many people legally purchase and sell goods on the internet, it’s important to stay up-to-date with current state and local laws to ensure you’re complying with trade and business regulations.

To avoid potential criminal violations, it’s critical for South Carolina residents to:

  • Limit online sales and purchases to legal products or services
  • Ensure you meet proper licensing requirements, if applicable
  • Refrain from false advertising and/or misrepresentation

#5. Posting Illegal Activity

Posting any footage of an illegal act on social media, even on personal or private accounts, can have serious legal consequences in South Carolina—even if you didn’t engage in the unlawful activity yourself.

Depending on the type of crime, you could face criminal charges such as harassment, stalking, or fraud. In some cases, you may be charged with a felony offense and could face jail time or hefty fines. In addition to criminal charges, posting video footage of illegal activity can also lead to civil liability, as anyone who was injured or suffered property damage due to your post may sue you for damages.

Once something is posted online, it’s often difficult to remove and can continue to be accessible long after you delete it from your account. Thus, it’s best to avoid posting any videos or images that you’re unsure about, as any footage that depicts or even suggests illicit activity can result in serious legal repercussions.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in SC

Preparing for criminal court can be scary, especially when the rest of your life hangs in the balance. It’s crucial to turn to a trusted criminal defense lawyer who can help strengthen your defense and collaborate with you to obtain a favorable result in court.

At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, we understand how terrifying it can be to be charged with a crime. That’s why our passionate attorneys are here to fight tirelessly for your rights. Since 2004, our team has successfully handled a wide range of criminal cases. From DUI defense to domestic violence to drug crimes, our skilled legal advocates have extensive experience defending clients throughout South Carolina.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, you deserve a trusted defense lawyer who can thoroughly investigate your case and determine the most effective legal strategy to employ in your defense. When you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, turn to a firm you can trust to protect your rights and provide you with quality legal representation every step of the way.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Lexington or the surrounding area, you’ll need aggressive representation to defend your rights. Call (803) 359-3301 to schedule a consultation.


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