Cyber Computer Crimes

There are two broad categories of computer crimes. One type of computer crime is when a computer is improperly used to inflict "viruses," "worms" etc., into another computer or computer network when done intentionally to cause damage to an employer, a specific company, or to an individual (commonly the former significant other in a relationship). A second type is when a computer is used as an instrument to commit a crime, such as viewing child pornography, or as part of mail or wire fraud, or identity theft.

In 1984 Congress passed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which centralized computer crimes under one statute and extended the Act's protection to all computers used in interstate and foreign commerce, which would include every computer connected to the internet. (Courts have held that smartphones are computers for purposes of the Act.) A separate federal statute prohibits cyberstalking.

The Act creates seven different categories of computer related crime dealing with unauthorized computer access. The statute covers (1) computer espionage (gaining access to government computers to obtain classified information); (2) protecting confidentiality of computer data (to punish unauthorized browsing through private financial and credit files, making it a crime to gain access to a computer without authorization to obtain information and financial records of a financial institution or a credit reporting company, or information from a government department or agency and information from a "protected computer," defined as a computer used exclusively by a financial institution or the U.S. government); (3) unauthorized access to government computers (unlike other categories, this punishes for simply accessing a government computer); (4) computer fraud (making it a crime to gain access and fraudulently use a protected computer to obtain anything valued at more than $5,000 in any one year period); (5) the "virus statute" (which prohibits transmission of any program to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer); (6) password trafficking; and (7) computer extortion.

In many computer charges it is a defense that the defendant actually had authorization at the time he gained access, and, in some situations, it is a defense if nothing of value was obtained. Federal prosecutors may also use the Economic Espionage Act (protecting against trade secret theft), the National Stolen Property Act (to cover the theft of computer hardware and software), mail and wire fraud, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (prohibiting unauthorized interception of computer communications such as emails); and the Child Pornography Prevention Act (which prohibits the distribution and possession of child pornography).

In state court, computer crimes include computer damage (intentionally destroying or damaging someone else's computer or computer system or altering someone else's computer system in order to injure or commit fraud, distributing "deconstructive computer programs" such as viruses, worms, etc., with intent to damage another computer system); computer theft (gaining access to a computer system to obtain services or money); unauthorized access (gaining unauthorized computer access in an attempt to penetrate a computer security system; it is also a crime to aid someone else to gain access to a computer security system knowing that person intends to commit a crime); and encryption (it is a crime to use encryption in order to commit or conceal a crime). Finally, it is a crime to use a computer to sexually solicit a minor, or possess and distribute child pornography.

Are you under investigation or have you been accused of a cybercrime? You will be concerned about life-changing punishments such as a lengthy prison sentence, substantial fines and a criminal record.

You can ensure that your rights and reputation are protected by contacting the Law Offices of William J. Mauzy in Minneapolis.

Attorney Bill Mauzy's hard work on behalf of his many clients before they are charged to discourage a prosecution has produced a significant track record of success during his decades of practice. He has tried more than 100 cases statewide and nationwide.

One Of The Most Experienced, Effective Defense Lawyers In The U.S.

The Law Offices of William J. Mauzy can aggressively represent you if you have been targeted by an investigation, grand jury or otherwise, of personal or commercial use of a computer, and if you have been arrested for any other kind of white collar crime. He is fully prepared to defend you against charges with the ability of an experienced advocate.

To speak in confidence with Bill Mauzy during a free initial consultation, contact us today by calling 612-444-9466 or sending an email message.