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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 criminalizes 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.
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.
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 identity 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 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.
About the Author
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.