Is Doxxing Illegal in Utah?
As the internet and digital technologies become an increasingly larger part of our everyday lives, cybercrimes are becoming a more significant issue. Lawmakers in many states have been somewhat slow to catch up with changing technologies, and offensive online behavior is often considered non-criminal. However, a relatively recent type of online behavior known as “doxxing” has been addressed by Utah lawmakers.
Doxxing involves posting another person’s private or personal information online without consent and with the intent of causing trouble for the victim. Doxxing is a new digital phenomenon and is not technically illegal in many states. Utah legislation passed in 2017, however, made doxxing a criminal offense in Utah. Disseminating a person’s personal or identifying information online may be a misdemeanor offense in Utah.
If you have been charged with doxxing or a similar computer-related offense, you should speak with an attorney about your case. Our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys can help you fight the charges against you. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to schedule a free legal consultation.
What is Considered Doxxing in Utah?
The term “doxxing” is not a legal term but was instead coined online. “Dox” is a shorthand word for “document,” as in documents that would contain personal or private information. In reality, no physical documents are actually shared. Instead, doxxing involves copying a person’s personal information and sharing it online so that others may use it or continue to spread it. When a person is “doxxed,” they have had their personal information leaked online. It’s possible their information was accessed via public portals and then disseminated elsewhere without permission or that it was gained through hacking.
The personal information shared in a doxxing incident can range from the mundane to the ultra-sensitive. For example, sharing someone’s phone number online without permission could be considered doxxing, even though most people do not keep their phone number a secret. On the other hand, super private information like Social Security numbers could also be leaked, causing significant legal problems for the victim.
An offense similar to doxxing can be found under Utah Code § 76-9-201. The law states that anyone who uses a computer to disclose or spread another person’s identifying information so that others may disseminate it further or use the person’s identity may be guilty of a crime. A defendant could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for a first-time offense and a Class A misdemeanor for any subsequent offenses.
You could also be charged under Utah Code § 76-6-703 related to hacking rather than harassment. The criminal charges will be for Class B misdemeanors if the victim is an adult. If the victim is a minor, defendants can be charged with Class A misdemeanors. Repeat offenses may be charged as third-degree felonies. If you are facing such charges, contact our Logan criminal defense lawyers immediately.
Penalties for Doxxing in Utah
As mentioned above, doxxing can be charged as Class B or Class A misdemeanors or even as a felony. For a Class B misdemeanor, you face up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Class A misdemeanors may be punished with jail terms of up to 364 days and fines of up to $2,500.
When a defendant has been convicted of doxxing in the past, their charges could be upgraded. A repeat offender may be charged with a very serious third-degree felony. Such a felony may be punished with a prison term of up to 5 years and fines of up to $5,000.
How you allegedly obtained the private information you supposedly disseminated online may also lead to criminal charges. If the authorities believe you obtained someone’s private information by means of illegal computer hacking, there could be additional charges and penalties. Talk to our Murray criminal defense attorneys about your doxxing case today.
Defenses to Doxxing in Utah
Defending against doxxing charges may be complicated and unpredictable. Doxxing and the field of cybercrimes is relatively new, and the legal field is not known for keeping up with changing technologies. However, as with any criminal case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty, which is a very high bar to meet.
We may be able to fight your charges if the prosecutor cannot prove who leaked the victim’s personal information. It is very easy for people to be anonymous on the internet, and people could dox someone without leaving any clue as to who they truly are. Even if the prosecutor can prove your computer was used in the doxxing event, that does not necessarily mean you were the one who committed the doxxing.
We can also challenge the allegations against you by arguing the information leaked without the requisite intent to harass or intimidate the alleged victim. Perhaps the doxxing incident was a mistake and you did not mean to publish personal information online. Alternatively, maybe you thought the information was only visible to a limited group but was accidentally made completely public.
Doxxing and hacking go hand-in-hand. You may defend yourself against hacking-related charges by challenging the method in which you obtained certain personal information. For example, if you had permission to access the information, you cannot be guilty of hacking.
If you are facing charges for doxxing or other cybercrimes, call our Park City criminal defense lawyers for help.
What Happens If I Am Charged with Doxxing in Utah?
If you are charged with doxxing, there may be a criminal investigation before formal charges are filed. However, cybercrime is somewhat different than ordinary investigations. The police may want to examine your computer or laptop to determine if it was used in the doxxing incident. Defendants are often hesitant to allow this because people keep very personal information stored on their computers. Like any search, the police will need a warrant before searching your computer. If no warrant exists, we can suppress any incriminating information found on your computer or laptop.
After being charged, you will go through various pre-trial hearings, including your arraignment and hearings for bail. Much of the evidence discussed in these hearings and at your trial will likely be digital. However, your case will proceed just like any other criminal case. You definitely need a skilled lawyer by your side to help you through this difficult time. Call out Orem criminal defense attorneys for help.
Call Our Utah Doxxing Defense Lawyers
If you are charged with doxxing or a similar cybercrime, you must take the situation seriously. People sometimes disregard internet-based offenses because they do not feel “real.” Our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help you deal with the very real charges you face. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to schedule a free legal consultation.