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The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Over the last couple of decades, technology has become an increasingly important, and oftentimes necessary, part of our lives. Californians spend much of their working and leisure time on their phones, computers and smart gadgets, which connect everyone across the country and the world. However, with access to such a wide network of computers, individuals can find themselves being accused of going where they should not and wind up facing federal criminal charges.

Under a federal law, known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, it is illegal to access a computer without having prior authorization and to access a computer in a way that exceeds one's authorization with the intent to obtain protected information and transmit or deliver it to another. Under the Act, it is also against the law to knowingly transmit any type of program that causes damage to a computer that is protected. An individual is also disallowed from using threats against a protected computer to extort money or property from another individual, business or agency.

The punishment for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act can be significant. Depending on the circumstances and the exact portion of the law under which an individual is prosecuted, a conviction could land an individual in prison for up to 20 years. A convicted individual could also face thousands of dollars in fines.

Federal Internet crime charges are quite serious and should be treated as such. This means preparing an adequate defense based on the available evidence, utilizing statutory and case law as support. Developing a proper criminal defense strategy requires time, knowledge, skill and persuasion. Those facing allegations regarding Internet crimes may thus benefit from the services of an experienced attorney.

Source: Cornell.edu, "18 U.S. Code § 1030," accessed on Feb. 27, 2016

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