Olliers Solicitors are a criminal defence law firm based in Manchester and London with specialist solicitors dealing with all aspects of computer related crime.
Dark Web Allegations
The ‘dark web’ has been seen much in the media in recent years. Accessible via TOR it offers a degree of anonymity unlike the ‘normal’ internet.
Various prosecutions have come about through the illicit use of the ‘dark web’. Most famously was the arrest in America by the founder of the ‘Silk Road’ website Ross Ulbricht. Following that there were arrests in the UK of students who were buying and selling drugs on the Silk Road website. This investigation was led by the National Crime Agency in the UK and was the first case of its kind seen here. Olliers represented one of the defendants in that case.
Other allegations often arise from the dark web including the distribution of indecent material. Olliers have dealt with numerous cases involving the investigation and distribution of such material.
Distribution of ‘Pirated’ Copyright Material
Websites and file sharing platforms are often used to distribute films, videos and music illegally. Sometimes this is done by individuals and sometimes by groups. Olliers are currently representing a defendant alleged to be part of a group called ‘MiLLENiUM’ who are alleged to be responsible for the online distribution of film torrents prior to their official release. We are able to advise in relation to all aspects of the such cases and the implications of dealing with copyrighted and trademarked films and videos.
Hacking and Cyber Terrorism
Hacking is the misuse of computers. The Computer Misuse Act 1980 legislates for three offences:
- Unauthorised access to computer material;
- Unauthorised access to computer material with intent to commit, or facilitate the commission of, a further offence.
- Unauthorised modification of computer material
Computer misuse has been in the news recently with a labour MP having admitted hacking into a rivals website potentially falling foul of the law. There have been calls for reform in the area but so far no movement in this area.
If someone from the UK hacks into a foreign countries website then there is the possibility of extradition, particularly to Countries like the USA who are keen to prosecute such offences there. We are able to offer advise into extradition in tandem with the main proceedings. Often extradition to the USA can be avoided.
Another factor that can arise in such cases is whether the defendant has a medical condition relevant to proceedings. Sometimes defendants suffer from mental health conditions or autism which is relevant to the commission of the offence, mitigation and potential extradition proceedings. Olliers solicitors have provided training to all staff in how to deal with defendants with such conditions appropriately.
Terrorism Related Cyber Cases
The Terrorism Act 2000 allowed for an action designed seriously to interfere with, or seriously to disrupt, an electronic system to be categorised as a terrorist action if both of the following conditions are satisfied:
- It is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public; and
- It is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause
For more information on cyber related offences click here.
Identity Theft and Phishing Scams
Identity theft involves the theft of someone’s personal details and can be carried out by a number of different methods.
- Trashing – obtaining discarded documents from rubbish bins, or stealing documents from their owner.
- Phishing – sending emails purporting to be from a reputable organisation, in order to trick victims into revealing their personal information.
- Smishing – sending SMS text messages to trick victims into revealing their personal information.
- Vishing – using the telephone system to trick victims into revealing their personal information.
Although identity theft is not a specific criminal offence, there are a number of other criminal offences which may be charged in cases of identity theft and fraud. These include: theft, fraud by false representation, possession of articles for use in fraud, obtaining services dishonestly and false accounting.
Identity theft is also linked to the commission of other fraud offences such as credit card fraud, bank fraud, tax rebate fraud, benefit fraud and telecommunications fraud.
The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 created two new offences of stalking by inserting new sections into The Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This includes harassment over the internet sometimes defined as Cyber Stalking.
It is generally defined as the repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone, for example by sending threatening emails or forcing contact through social media.
Revenge porn was made an offence under section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Previously, such cases were prosecuted under the Communications Act 2003, Malicious Communications Act 1988 or the Harassment Act 1997.
Revenge porn is the sharing of private sexual material, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. The images are sometimes accompanied by personal information about the subject, including their full name, address and links to their social media profiles.
The offence applies both online and offline and to images which are shared electronically or in a more traditional way so includes the uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and e-mail, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.
Indecent Images Cases
One of the most commonly prosecuted type of cases related to the internet are allegations of possession and distribution of indecent images. Olliers have vast knowledge and understanding of such cases and the best way forwards in cases.
In these types of cases it is important to seek advice at the earliest stage, preferably at the police station. In some circumstances it is possible to avoid prosecution at the first instance if good advice is given at an early stage.
If you end up being taken to court then we are able to provide realistic advice to you as to the best way forward with the case.
In some cases we can advise as to the best defence to put forward to try and avoid conviction.
In other cases, where there is an acceptance of guilt, it is a matter of damage limitation and we can advise as to the best way forward to try and avoid a custodial sentence. We recently advised a Polish national who committed offences in the UK and then returned to Poland where he resided at the time of sentence. We were able to persuade the court to impose a suspended sentence allowing him to return to Poland and continue with his life.