Which theories of criminal behavior best explain the actions of cybercriminals?
Criminal conduct that utilizes the complexities of modern technology is on the rise in America. The federal government has, however, made efforts to curb this menace that has been quite perilous in the conduct of business, and even the running of government. National security and free business are in most cases compromised, necessitating the need to give cyber-crime prevention and punishment a closer look, (Taylor, Fritsch, & Liederbach, 2014). In so doing, it is important to analyze not only the practical aspects of the discipline but also the theoretical aspects of the same. In this line, McShane (2013) argues that theoretical scrutiny of crimes enables law enforcement work more effectively in their quest for crime prevention and possible elimination.
A number of theorists have attempted to attribute criminal behavior to certain factors that influence action. The meeting point of all these theorists and scholars agree that indeed human behavior is a product of the interaction of a number of factors that directly or in most times, indirectly influence their actions, (Kanai & Rees, 2011). Consequently, these theories however much they may be, are into three categories in terms of the factors involved. These include the psychological theories, the sociological and environmental theories, and the biological theories. All these schools of thought hold that criminal behavior is an expression of a rational choice in most instances.
Both the biological and psychological theories hold that criminal behavior is directly influenced by the human make- up of various persons. The biological and biosocial theory that propagates the aspect of born criminals tends to ignore the development trends in the field of criminology such as the advent of modern technology. However, there is an attempt therein to characterize criminal behavior to current trends, such as the advent of epidemiological criminology that takes account of the effect of criminal behavior on public health. With regard to the complexities associated with cybercrimes, I believe that biological- based theories do not sufficiently explain cybercrime, as it does not appreciate the uniqueness of the conduct of cybercriminals.
The social theories in a wide perspectives lay credence on the developmental factors that influence criminal conduct, such as strain and frustration as a motivating factor towards the pursuit of criminal endeavors. Such theories include personality theory, reckless containment theory, the rational choice theory, the routine activities theory and even the social deviance theory. All these theories acknowledge the fact that the society within which a person lives directly influences his choice of behavior, (Lorenc, Clayton, Neary, Whitehead, Petticrew, M., Thomson, & Renton, 2012)
Lorenc et al. (2012) further allude that the social theories are further propounded by the environmental theories such as the differential association theory that postulates the influence of a person's clique to his choice of conduct. Further, the exposure to criminal activities according to Taylor, Walton, & Young (2013) has a direct influence on cybercrimes and thus cybercriminals. Finally, with the criminal principle of mens rea, the psychological perspectives cannot fail to influence any crime, especially those whose intention has to be established to sustain a conviction, such as cybercrime. Diamond (2013) opines that disorders of the mind and biological substrates have the effect of generating unconscious primitive urges to cause harm or break the law, and so I say. Therefore, both theories concisely explain the actions of cybercriminals.
Cybercrimes have been on the rise, and actually, it involves theft and destruction through utilization of technological resources. Phishing, vishing and even identity theft have been on the rise, and has influenced the United States’ Justice department’s decision to establish the Cyber Division’s Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit of the FBI and even consequently the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance (NCFTA) for equipping law enforcement with necessary skills to manage the vice. Various cyber activities have since been criminalized and enforceable under the Federal criminal code and laws, (Taylor, Fritsch & Liederbach, 2014)
Particularly, concerning the punishment of a cybercriminal in the nature of webpage defacers who commit security- related offence against the government, the act is likely to be regarded as a crime against the security and safety of the state, whose effect is prosecution as a felony. All such crimes must be proved beyond reasonable doubt in line with Article 1, section 12 of the USA Model Penal Code. The statute further establishes an offence in its Article 241.8 that relates to tampering with public records and information and goes on to provide for possible punitive measures at the court's discretion under Article 7 and 9.
This is in line with the assertion of Tonry, (2009) who holds that punishment of any crime of any nature in the USA must have a statutory basis. I would thus punish the webpage defacer based on the Penal Code, and issue a fine, an imprisonment term or both. I would highly recommend a holistic approach to dealing with such modern crimes, and forfeiture and subsequent sentencing would be effective in these circumstances.
In so punishing cyber criminals, the law enforcement must be guided and act according to the tenets of good criminal practice such as respect and regard for human rights and fundamental freedoms. In the enforcement of cyber-crimes, however, the veil of inalienability of rights such as the right to privacy can justifiably be lifted if there is a reason to believe that the interest of the state security is at stake. Therefore, I believe that privacy can rightly be violated in the above circumstances. The threat of organized crime as a phenomenon can be reduced effectively by employing strategies that would break such groupings while giving due regard to the basic tenets of criminal justice.
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