Cybercrime and the U.S. Criminal Justice System
Susan W. Brenner, University of Dayton School of Law
Cybercrime, which is essentially the use of computer technology in the commission of criminal activity, presents many challenges for the U.S. legal system. On the one hand, state and federal law adequately criminalizes most of the basic cybercrime offenses; on the other hand, there is substantial disagreement as to the penalties that are appropriate for those who commit these offenses. The disagreement over penalties is exacerbated by the fact that many offenders are juveniles; the federal system, especially, is not equipped to deal with juveniles. Charging decisions can be difficult because it is not easy to parse cybercrime into offenses: Is the dissemination of a virus that damages a million computers one crime or a million crimes? As is explained below, these are only a few of the ways in which cybercrime challenges the basic assumptions that structured traditional criminal law.
DIFFERENCES FROM CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM
The criminal justice system in the United ...