Computer hacking is the act of accessing a computer system’s files without the proper authorization. It covers most crimes that involve the illegal access of a computer for the purpose of stealing or destroying files and information.
Unauthorized Use of a Computer is an offense that applies when someone has gained access to and / or used a computer without the owner’s knowledge or permission. It is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by 1 year in prison and / or a fine of up to $1,000.
Computer Trespass occurs when a person intentionally accesses a computer without permission and uses it to commit a crime. This offense is a Class E felony that can be punished by up to 4 years in prison.
Computer Tampering in the Fourth Degree happens when someone uses a computer without permission and intentionally changes or destroys the owner’s data. It is a Class A misdemeanor. In the third degree it is a Class E felony, in the second degree a Class D felony (punishable by up to 7 years in prison), and in the first degree a Class C felony that can send a person to prison for 15 years.
A conviction for computer hacking can entail years of prison time, so anyone accused of this offense should consult a criminal defense attorney immediately, preferably someone with experience in cyber crime defenses.
Criminal Possession of Computer-Related Material, Unlawful Duplication of Computer-Related Material
18 U.S.C. 1030,, the federal computer fraud and abuse statute, outlaws conduct that compromises government computer systems. This provision is not comprehensive: it offers protection in areas where other federal criminal laws aren’t as effective.
It is a federal crime to damage a bank or government computer or a computer that plays a role in interstate or foreign commerce, or use it to commit fraud or espionage. Trafficking in passwords to government computers or computers involved in interstate or foreign commerce is also illegal. Penalties range from one year in prison to life, depending on the severity of the offense and damage.
If the defendant can show that they had reasonable grounds to believe that they were authorized to access the computer in question and alter, copy, or reproduce the data, they have a viable defense. Other defenses include mental illness and proof that others could have committed the crime.
In September 2012 Sam Chihlung Yin, 35, was sentenced to 2-6 years in state prison for tampering with Gucci America’s corporate computer network. Yin, a network engineer formerly employed by Gucci America, used an account he had secretly created to shut down some servers and delete important data from others. He also wiped the company’s email server, resulting in missed communications and lost productivity. He was found guilty of Computer Tampering in the First Degree and Criminal Possession of Computer Related Materials.