What is a ‘criminal use of a communications facility’ charge?

by | Apr 29, 2015 | Internet Crimes

If you’ve been charged with a crime under Pennsylvania law, you could face an additional charge if the crime you’re accused of involved a computer, smartphone or tablet. The charge is called “criminal use of a communications facility,” and a prosecutor can add it to any of a wide variety of criminal offenses, including:

  • Fraud, identity theft or scams
  • Embezzlement
  • Harassment, meaning anything from sexual harassment to cyberbullying or underage sexting
  • Child pornography
  • Purchase or distribution of controlled substances

If it’s possible to commit an offense without using a computer, chances are a “criminal use of a communications facility” charge could be added if you used one.

Is there any chance to avoid extra penalties just because a computer was used?

Because it isn’t the primary charge, there’s a good chance the damage from a “criminal use charge” can be limited by a knowledgeable defense lawyer. Attorney Joseph Lesniak served as a prosecutor for the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office for over nine years, where he spent a substantial amount of time focusing on computer-related crimes. He knows how to make these cases — and he knows how to break them.

Attorney Lesniak has detailed knowledge about how computer crimes are investigated and prosecuted, including how to obtain and understand computer forensics reports, how to check whether prosecution evidence is authentic, and where there might be breaks in the chain of evidence. While he was with the DA’s office, in fact, he was responsible for training other prosecutors on handling these cases.

As technology continues to change, the law sometimes has a hard time keeping up. As we’ve discussed before, the law on underage sexting (transmitting sexually suggestive images via phone or Internet) is still evolving. That means some prosecutors want to charge teens in consensual relationships with child pornography — and add a criminal use of a communications facility charge on top. This is one example of how certain behaviors are considered criminal by some, but not by others. In such a situation, a conviction could be deeply unjust.

Joseph Lesniak is committed to helping people get unjust or unnecessary charges dismissed. If prosecutors won’t budge, he will fight to minimize the penalties and long-term damage to your reputation. If you’re facing criminal use charges, don’t let a bad situation get even worse. We welcome your call or email.