Both state as well as federal laws prohibit various types of computer crimes. In some instances, a person can be charged for the same computer crime in both California as well as federal courts.
Some of the more common computer crimes in California include:
- Stealing Computer Data: California Penal Code 502
The California Penal Code criminalize the unauthorized taking or copying of data and information from a computer, computer system, or computer network. Depending on the criminal history of the defendant and the specific facts of the crime, this computer crime can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction for this crime could result in a jail term of up to a year. A felony conviction could result in up to three years in prison.
Hacking involves wrongfully accessing a computer or personal data on a computer without the owner's permission. A conviction for this crime carries a potential sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
- Phishing: 18 U.S.C. Section 1028
Phishing involves fraudulently obtaining personal information, such as login or credit card information by posing as a legitimate entity or agency. Phishing also includes sending a virus or malware link by email for the purpose of accessing another's personal computer information. Potential penalties for a conviction range from three to fifteen years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the offense.
Identity Theft: 18 U.S.C Section 1028, California Penal Code 530.5
In California, identity theft is usually charged as fraud under PC 530.5. However, an individual could be charged with a federal crime under 18 U.S.C Section 1028 if the theft of another's identity is committed via the computer. Possible penalties for a federal identify theft conviction are the same as those convicted of phishing.
Electronic Harassment: California Penal Code 646.9
Electronic harassment, also referred to as cyberstalking, involves the e use of the internet to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person through email or social media. Under California Penal Code Section 646.9, electronic harassment could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor electronic harassment conviction could result in a sentence of one year in jail. A felony cyberstalking conviction is punishable by up to five years in prison.
A California computer crime conviction has serious consequences. If you have been charged with a computer crime, contact us to protect your legal rights.