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Internet crimes and reporting: How you can be accused in Texas

As a person who has been accused of an Internet crime, it's important that you understand why you're in this position. How was a complaint filed against you? Was it legitimate, and if so, how can evidence be provided or discounted to help you defend yourself?

Here's some information on how complaints about Internet crimes are handled. To start with, an Internet Crimes Complaint Center takes the complaint from the alleged victim and gathers information including the person's name, address, telephone number and information about the person or business that has committed the crime against you.

Legally speaking, an Internet crime is loosely defined as any illegal activity that involves the Internet in some way. For instance, if you were harassed in a chat room or lost money through fraud on a website, those acts would be seen as an Internet crime. Therefore, as someone accused, if someone can show that you tricked, stole or harassed him or her online, you may be accused of an Internet crime and charges could be filed.

Even emails can be used as evidence of an Internet crime. Here's how that may cause trouble, though. Many emails can be sent without a user's knowledge through a process involving viruses or worms. The email could be changed to appear as if you sent it, trying to defraud the person who receives it. Interestingly, the email with their information won't come back to you; instead, it goes to the real criminal. That's just one possible explanation for why you could be accused of a fraud scheme online that you have no knowledge of.

Regardless of the situation, if you're accused of an Internet crime, it's important to defend yourself from the start. You deserve the right to explain yourself before a sentence is given.

Source: IC3, "Frequently Asked Questions" accessed Feb. 09, 2015

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