A federal crime that many people know about but may not understand is espionage. This crime, associated with spies, takes place when a person obtains secret information and then divulges it to others without the owner’s permission. For example, if someone from a busy corporation tells a competitor a secret about the company’s latest project, that might be considered industrial or corporate espionage.
Espionage can happen across many sectors. It may or may not involve the government. Often, it involves the military.
Military espionage: In 1917, the Espionage Act was born
The Espionage Act is a law that prohibits the sharing of any information that could aid the military’s enemies or disrupt military interests. Did you know that being accused of this and being convicted could lead to up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000? While this only applies in cases where the military is involved, it’s an act that is important to know if you’re accused of espionage and are a military member.
What is required to be convicted of espionage?
If you are accused of espionage, the prosecution will need to show that you:
- Transmitted classified information (if related to the government)
- Acted knowing that the information could hurt the United States or help a foreign nation
- There was an obvious and overt act performed that provides further evidence of a conspiracy to commit espionage
- There was someone who willfully received, transferred or communicated classified information
If you’re accused of espionage, whether it’s corporate, governmental or some other form, you need to look into developing a strong defense. Espionage is a serious charge with severe consequences.