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Top 5 Internet Crimes in South Carolina

Top 5 Internet Crimes in South Carolina

Common Internet Crimes in South Carolina

In today’s evolving digital world, computer and internet crimes (“cybercrimes”) have become increasingly common in South Carolina. It’s important to be aware of what constitutes internet crimes to avoid unintended criminal penalties, especially as current legislation continues to evolve and advance with technology over time.

Keep reading to learn more about criminal convictions and associated legal penalties for internet crimes in 2023.

Top 5 Internet Crimes to Be Aware Of in 2023

With the rise of social media and other online platforms, it's no secret that online information is more accessible than ever. From joining coworkers for virtual after-work happy hours to helping your business go viral on TikTok, there are numerous ways to stay virtually connected in today’s modern world.

While the internet can be an excellent means to maintain both professional and personal communication with friends and loved ones, it’s essential for South Carolina residents to understand what constitutes cybercrimes in today’s digital age. Consider these top 5 common internet crimes to be aware of in 2023:

1. Identity Theft

Identity theft is illegal in South Carolina, meaning that it’s against the law to steal another person’s personal information to commit fraud or other crimes. Examples of illegally obtained information include:

  • The person’s name
  • The person’s social security number
  • The person’s credit card or banking information

...and more. Under the South Carolina Code of Laws §16-13-10, it’s unlawful to:

  • Falsely make, forge, or counterfeit; cause or procure to be falsely made, forged, or counterfeited; or willfully act or assist in the false making, forging, or counterfeiting of any writing or instrument of writing;
  • Utter or publish as true any false, forged, or counterfeited writing or instrument of writing;
  • Falsely make, forge, counterfeit, alter, change, deface, or erase; or cause or procure to be falsely made, forged, counterfeited, altered, changed, defaced, or erased any record or plat of land; and/or
  • Willingly act or assist in any of the premises, with an intention to defraud any person.

Identity fraud is punishable by various criminal penalties based on the severity of the crime and the unique circumstances of the case. Generally, first-time offenders are guilty of a felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or fines. For subsequent offenses, defendants can face more severe penalties, including up to 20 years in prison and/or fines at the court’s discretion.

Those convicted of identity fraud may also be required to pay restitution to the victim for any financial losses incurred as a result of the identity theft.

2. Hacking & Unauthorized Access

Hacking is a criminal offense in South Carolina that involves unauthorized access to computer systems or networks with malicious intent, permitting offenders to steal sensitive data, install malware, or cause other damage to the affected systems. In South Carolina, hacking is a serious offense that carries severe penalties, including hefty fines and imprisonment.

Under S.C. Code §16-16-10, computer hacking is defined as:

  1. Accessing or attempting to access all or part of a computer, computer system, or a computer network without express or implied authorization for the purpose of establishing contact only;
  2. With the intent to defraud or with malicious intent to commit a crime after the contact is established;
  3. Misusing computer or network services including, but not limited to, mail transfer programs, file transfer programs, proxy servers, and web servers by performing functions not authorized by the appropriate principal of the computer, computer system, or computer network;
  4. Using a group of computer programs commonly known as "port scanners" or "probes" to intentionally access any computer, computer system, or computer network without the permission of the appropriate principal of the computer, computer system, or computer network; and/or
  5. The intentional use of a computer, system, or network in a manner that exceeds any right or permission granted by the appropriate principal of the computer, computer system, or computer network.

3. Online Harassment & Cyberbullying

Online harassment and cyberbullying involve the use of electronic communication to intimidate, threaten, or harm others. These acts can take many forms, such as:

  • Sending threatening emails
  • Spreading false rumors online
  • Posting explicit photos without consent
  • Creating fake profiles or websites to impersonate or defame others

In South Carolina, online harassment and cyberbullying are treated as criminal offenses and can result in severe legal consequences. Although online harassment and cyberbullying are not explicitly defined in the South Carolina Code of Laws, various statutes address conduct that may be considered online harassment or cyberbullying in a court of law, including the South Carolina Harassment, Intimidation or Bullying Prevention Act (S.C. Code § 59-63-110 to §59-63-150).

Under this act, harassment, intimidation, or bullying is defined as “a gesture, an electronic communication, or a written, verbal, physical, or sexual act that is reasonably perceived to have the effect of either of the following: (a) harming a student physically or emotionally or damaging a student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of personal harm or property damage; or (b) insulting or demeaning a student or group of students causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.”

4. Possessing or Disseminating Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM)

In South Carolina, it’s illegal to possess, disseminate, or produce child sexual abuse materials or CSAM (formerly known as child pornography). Under South Carolina Code §16-15-410, it’s against the law to:

  • Knowingly disseminate, procure, or promote any material that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity or appearing in a state of sexually explicit nudity when a reasonable person would infer the purpose is sexual stimulation;
  • Create, direct, or produce child sexual abuse materials;
  • Advertise or promote child sexual abuse materials; and/or
  • Possess child sexual abuse materials with the intent to disseminate, procure, or promote.

The associated criminal penalties for possessing or disseminating CSAM in South Carolina are severe. Under §16-15-410, a person who violates these laws is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, can face imprisonment for up to 20 years and/or a fine at the court’s discretion. Offenders with prior convictions may face a mandatory prison sentence of 10 years.

5. Online Fraud & Scams

Online fraud and scams involve deceiving victims through the use of electronic communication, often for financial gain. Common examples include:

  • Phishing emails
  • Romance scams
  • Investment schemes

Contact a Trusted Lexington Criminal Defense Lawyer

Our accomplished criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC have extensive experience representing the accused in Lexington and beyond. From serious felonies to routine misdemeanors, our confident legal advocates have the specialized training and skills to guide your legal steps wisely from start to finish.

From DUI defense to white-collar crimes, our team understands that even well-meaning people can find themselves on the wrong side of the law, making it all the more imperative to turn to a seasoned criminal defense firm to safeguard your freedom and fight for the justice you deserve. Reach out to our office today to learn how we can work to reduce or dismiss the charges against you in criminal court.

Being charged with a crime can be terrifying, but you don’t have to fight alone. Call (803) 359-3301 to schedule a free consultation.


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