Federal Criminal Laws on Stored Electronic Communications

There are strict rules in place to make sure that people’s communications can be kept mostly private in the United States. Sometimes, however, communications are intercepted or recorded, or information about communications must be stored. When records of communication are made and produced, compliance with the law is essential because sensitive privacy issues are raised.

In fact, there are federal criminal laws that relate to misconduct involving communications records, prohibited acts, and criminal and civil penalties that could be imposed for violations.

Understanding these federal laws is important if you are accused of wrongdoing or if you are wronged by others who have misused your communication records or who have failed to protect your data.

LV Criminal Defense can help you in all different situations. We provide representation to clients in Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and surrounding areas. We know the federal rules related to the storage and records of electronic communications and we can help anyone who is involved in legal proceedings related to such records.

For all clients who are represented by our firm, we work hard to protect their interests and fight to avoid penalties or receive favorable remedies. The right course of action depends heavily on your circumstances, so give our federal defense attorneys a call today to find out about the assistance we can offer.

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Federal Criminal Laws on Access to Stored Wire and Electronic Communications

Federal criminal laws on wire and electronic communications and transactional records access are found in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 121. There are 12 statutes within 18 U.S. Code Chapter 121 that deal with the storage of communication material. 18 U.S. Code Chapter 119, on the other hand, deals with exactly when interception of electronic, oral, or written communication is permitted.

The statutes within Chapter 121 that protect communications that are being stored — and impose penalties for those who commit violations — include:

  • 18 U.S. Code section 2701 – Unlawful access to stored communications
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2702 – Voluntary disclosure of customer communications or records
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2703 – Required disclosure of customer communications or records
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2704 – Backup preservation
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2705 – Delayed notice
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2706 – Cost reimbursement
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2707 – Civil action
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2708 – Exclusivity of remedies
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2709 – Counterintelligence access to telephone toll and transactional records
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2710 – Wrongful disclosure of video tape rental or sale records
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2711 – Definitions for chapter
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2712 – Civil actions against the United States

Each of these different statutes sets specific rules with regarding to how records should be stored and protected and what kinds of civil and criminal penalties can result from failure to keep records properly or prevent unsecured access to records.

For example, 18 U.S. Code section 2701 prohibits intentionally accessing facilities where electronic communication service is provided without authorization to enter. Intentionally exceeding authority after being granted express permission to enter is another example of a criminal offense that could result in charges under 18 U.S. Code section. 2701.

Penalties under this statute vary depending upon the circumstances. If the offense is committed for purposes of commercial gain or in furtherance of a crime, penalties could include a fine and imprisonment for up to five years for a first offense. If the offense is a repeat offense committed for personal gain, a defendant who is convicted could be imprisoned for as long as 10 years.

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In other circumstances when the offense is not for commercial gain, the maximum penalty is a maximum of a year of imprisonment for a first offense or up to five years for repeat offenders with prior convictions.

The statutes within Chapter 121 also detail when voluntary and required disclosures can be made, how backups of data must be preserved, reimbursement for costs, and the civil penalties that can be imposed in a civil action.

According to the rules for civil actions found in 18 U.S. Code section 2707, those who are affected by a violation of any of the statutes in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 121 can pursue a claim against a provider of electronic communications to seek an injunction or to seek other appropriate declaratory relief ordering the electronics provider to take or refrain from taking specific actions.

In a civil action, plaintiffs can also be entitled to receive monetary damages and could be entitled to reasonable legal fees and litigation costs as well.

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Getting Help From a Federal Criminal Attorney

Because both civil penalties and criminal penalties can be imposed upon defendants who violate the rules regarding the storage and disclosure of wire and electronic communications and transactional records, those who are accused of wrongdoing need to be certain that they take those accusations seriously. There is a reduced standard for proving a violation occurred when a civil claim is made, and monetary penalties can sometimes be substantial.

LV Criminal Defense can help you to ensure that you are making fully informed choices when it comes to responding to civil and criminal charges. We can represent you in any legal proceedings related to improper storage of wire and electronic communications or transactional records and we are prepared and ready to fight hard on your behalf.

Our firm can help you to determine if you should negotiate a plea deal, fight charges by going to court, or try to get the case dismissed due to insufficient evidence.

The goal is always to help you get the best outcomes possible. To find out more about how our firm can help you when it comes to accusations that you violated 18 U.S. Code section 121 by improperly storing records of electronic communication or wire communication, give us a call today.