If you have a serious matter please ask to speak to a senior solicitor/partner
The police are increasingly sophisticated in the way they target cybercriminals, with offences such as hacking, fraud, piracy and sending malicious communications carrying the potential for very serious fines and prison sentences.
Being charged with a cybercrime offence could have a huge impact on your life above and beyond the criminal penalties, including affecting your ability to find work in future. If you have been arrested or charged with cyber offence, or are concerned you may have committed such an offence, getting expert legal advice immediately is essential.
Having specialist representation as soon as possible could see you avoid charges, and if you are charged, the right legal support could secure an early acquittal, increase your chances of being found not guilty if you are prosecuted or minimise any penalties on conviction.
JD Spicer Zeb is one of the country’s leading criminal defence firms with over 40 years of experience advising and representing clients in relation to complex, technical charges, including those related to cybercrimes.
With strong expertise in all types of cyber offences, we can quickly make your legal position clear to you, explain how these types of charges work and talk you through your defence options. We can then provide effective representation through every stage of the proceedings.
If you have been arrested for, or charged with a cybercrime offence, you can contact us 24-hours a day, seven days a week for an immediate free initial consultation, expert legal advice and representation.
Our highly experienced criminal defence solicitors offer:
- 24/7 legal support in person and over the phone, 365 days a year
- Representation anywhere in England or Wales
- Accredited Police Station Representatives to support you during a police interview
- Clear, effective legal advice in any language (see our languages spoken)
- Local offices in London, Birmingham or Manchester
Have you been arrested on suspicion of committing a cybercrime offence? Use the emergency numbers below to secure representation by one of our accredited Police Station Representatives now.
Our emergency contact numbers:
Your legal rights when arrested for a cybercrime offence
At the point of arrest, the arresting officers are required to tell you:
- That they are police officers
- That you are being arrested
- What specific offence or offences you are believed to have committed
- Why it is necessary for you to be arrested
- That you are not free to leave
They must also caution you using the words:
“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
When you are arrested, you will then normally be taken to a police station, held in custody (in a cell) and then interviewed.
Being arrested and interviewed by police can be a stressful and confusing situation, so it is easy to say the wrong thing and potentially harm your defence. Any mistakes made during a police interview can be hard to recover from, so it is critical that you remember your legal rights so you can avoid saying or doing anything which may undermine your case.
The key things to keep in mind when speaking to the police are:
- You do not have to answer any questions asked by the police. Whether to do so or not requires a thorough understanding of your case and how the criminal justice system works. Legal advice should be taken before you say anything.
- You should never answer any police questions without a solicitor present.
- You have the right to free legal representation.
- You can use the duty solicitor available or choose your own lawyer.
What happens if you are charged with a cybercrime?
Following an interview by police in connection with a suspected cybercrime offence, you maybe:
- Released with no further action
- Released under investigation
- Detained in custody
- Charged with a specific offence
If you are charged with a cybercrime offence:
- A hearing date will be set
- You will either be:
- Released on bail
- Kept in custody until your court hearing
If you are released under investigation or with no further action, it is important to realise that you can be rearrested or summonsed to attend a court hearing at any time.
Should you be charged with a specific cybercrime offence, you will either be taken directly from the police station to a court or you will be bailed to attend a court hearing at a future date.
If you are brought straight to court, we will arrange specialist legal counsel for you, making sure you have the very best representation for your hearing.
In the event that you are bailed to attend a future hearing, we will support you proactively. Effective early stage representation can often allow you to avoid drawn out legal proceedings and reduce the charges or any penalties you are facing.
We can engage specialist counsel for consultation whose rates range from between £500 plus VAT - £1000 plus VAT for an initial meeting.
Common cybercrime offences
Computer hacking can amount to an offence under one or more of pieces of legislation; the most common being the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and Serious Crime Act 2015. Relevant offences include:
- Unauthorised access to computer material
- Unauthorised access to computer material with intent to commit an offence such as theft, fraud or criminal damage
- Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or being recklessness as to the risk of impairing, the operation of a computer e.g. digital denial of service (DDoS) attacks
Hacking offences can also be prosecuted under the Terrorism Act 2000 in cases where there is an intent to influence the government, intimidate the public or sections of the public, or advance a political, religious or ideological cause.
Penalties for hacking offences – The penalties can range from two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine, up to life imprisonment and/or a fine depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Distributing malware such as computer viruses, spyware and ransomware may be prosecuted under the Computer Misuse Act and may also involve offences under other legislation, such as the Fraud Act 2006 and the Data Protection Act 2018, depending on the intention of the person distributing the malware.
Penalties for malware offences – This will depend on the exact offence committed. Using malware to gain unauthorised access to computer material with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences can attract a sentence of up to 5 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine.
Committing fraud via the internet is a crime under the Fraud Act 2006 and may involve other offences under legislation including the Theft Act 1968, the Theft Act 1978 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Penalties for online fraud – Up to 10 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine with the value of any fine calculated based on the harm caused.
Online piracy & intellectual property infringement
There are various types of online intellectual property crime with which you could potentially be charged, including:
- Piracy (breach of copyright) e.g. distributing copies of music, films etc. without permission from the IP rights holder
- Counterfeiting goods (trademark infringement) e.g. selling any type of product online that is intended to appear as if it is made by a manufacturer whose brand is protected by a trademark
- Forgery e.g. selling or otherwise distributing false objects or documents with the intent to have someone else accept them as genuine
Penalties for online piracy & IP infringement offences – Up to 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine.
Selling illegal goods online
A wide range of illegal items are sold online, including drugs, firearms, stolen credit card details and tools for committing other cyber offences. Taking part in selling illegal items online could lead to charges under a variety of pieces of legislation, including the Fraud Act 2006, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Firearms Act 1968.
Penalties for selling illegal goods online – This will depend on the exact nature of the offence or offences committed, for example the supply of class A drugs carries the potential for life imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
Malicious and offensive communications
Sending messages or other content by social media, email and other online forms of communication could be an offence if the messages fall into one of the following categories:
- Making a credible threat of violence or damage to property
- Specifically targeting an individual or individuals for harassment, stalking, controlling or coercive behaviour
- Disclosing private sexual images without consent
- Breaching a court order or a statutory provision
- Content which is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false
Such offences can potentially be prosecuted under the Malicious Communications Act 1988 or under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
Penalties for malicious and offensive communications offences – Up to 6 months imprisonment for offences under the Communications Act and up to 2 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine under the Malicious Communications Act.
Making, distributing and possessing child pornography is illegal under the Protection of Children Act 1978 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988. A conviction could result in a prison sentence and being placed on the Violent and Sex Offender Register.
Penalties for child pornography offences – Up to 5 years’ imprisonment for possession of child pornography and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for offences involving the production and distribution of child pornography.
Extreme pornography and obscene publications
The possession of extreme pornography is an offence under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. This includes pornography that depicts acts that threaten a person’s life, result in or are likely to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals, bestiality and necrophilia.
Penalties for extreme pornography and obscene publications – Up to 3 years’ imprisonment.
If an online offence is committed with the intent to influence the government, intimidate the public or sections of the public, or advance a political, religious or ideological cause it could be classed as cyberterrorism.
Terrorism offences are dealt with under the Terrorism Act 2000 and require particularly careful handling as the process for prosecuting these offences is different than for standard criminal offences.
Penalties for cyberterrorism – Depending on the severity of the offence, the potential sentence on conviction can be up to life imprisonment.
Funding your legal defence for cybercrime offences
Funding for your police station representation
When arrested and interviewed by police, you are entitled to free legal representation.
You have the option of being represented by whichever duty solicitor is available at the police station at the time of your interview, however, we strongly recommend choosing your solicitor. This allows you to ensure you have advice and support from a legal expert with specific experience in cybercrime offences.
Funding your legal defence if you are prosecuted
If you are prosecuted for a cyber offence, you may be eligible for a Representation Order (commonly referred to as ‘legal aid’) to cover some or all of the cost of your defence.
How much financial assistance you can claim, and the application process, will depend on which type of court you are prosecuted in.
Magistrates’ Court prosecutions
Some or all of your defence costs may be covered by a Representation Order if you are prosecuted in a Magistrates’ Court.
To qualify, you will need to past a merit test, showing that it is in the interests of justice for you to have legal representation, and a means test, to show you need financial assistance to fund this representation.
Crown Court prosecutions
You may be able to get help with some of your legal costs if you are prosecuted in Crown Court but will normally have to fund some of your defence costs yourself. However, any contribution you make towards the cost of your defence will be refunded with interest if you are found not guilty.
You will only need to take a means test to secure a Representation Order for Crown Court because having legal representation will automatically be considered to be in the interests of justice.
If you are required to cover some or all of the costs of your legal representation yourself, we can provide clear guidance on all of the likely costs involved.
Contact our criminal defence lawyers today
For a free initial consultation, urgent specialist advice, immediate representation or to speak to us confidentially about an arrest or charges related to a cybercrime offence, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
You can contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:
- Brent & Camden London Office: 020 7624 7771
- Manchester Office: 0161 835 1638
- Birmingham Office: 0121 614 3333
- City of London: 0207 624 7771 (our senior Solicitors and Partners can meet by appointment in the City)
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
24/7 legal representation for cybercrime offences
We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Numbers:
For new serious cases you can email a senior partner/lawyer directly by clicking here. When you call us you can request a call back or meeting the same day with a senior partner/lawyer or Barrister.