Over the past few decades computers have become an important and ubiquitous part of our everyday lives. While computers provide us with many benefits such as increased productivity, computers can also create serious problems. Computer crimes, for example, are a significant problem in the United States. Computer crimes can generally be divided into two categories: crimes that are specific to the use of computers and crimes that are made easier by computers, but existed prior to the advent of computers.
Often, a computer crime is a federal crime because it occurs in more than one state. Federal computer crimes may be investigated by the FBI, the US Secret Service and other appropriate federal agencies. If a suspect is arrested then a prosecutor will be assigned from the US Attorney’s Office to prosecute the case. If the computer crime happened within the borders of just one state and did not involve any federal computers or federal information then a state may investigate, prosecute and try a suspect pursuant to state law.
Computer Specific Crimes
The two most common computer specific crimes include hacking and damaging or threatening to damage a computer. The crime of hacking involves breaking into a computer which you are unauthorized to access. The hacker may be trying to obtain sensitive information or harm the computer. No matter what the hacker’s motivation, hacking is a crime and the hacker may be prosecuted, tried and sentenced for his or her actions. The crime of damaging or threatening to damage a computer deals primarily with computer viruses or worms. It is illegal to attack a computer with a program, code, virus or worm that will harm the computer, compromise the security of the information on the computer or affect the operations of that computer.
Crimes that are Made “Easier” by Computers
The computer age has made other crimes easier to commit. For example, some common crimes that are committed with the use of computers and the internet include child pornography, copyright infringement, identity theft, stealing and stalking. Criminals who are convicted of any of these crimes face the typical sentences associated with each crime and may face additional sentences because of the use of computers or the internet in the administration of the crime. The sentences for these crimes vary depending on the type of crime, the extent of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
It is against the law to commit a computer crime. If you are suspected of committing a computer crime, you will be investigated and you may be prosecuted. A criminal defense attorney with experience defending people in computer related crimes can help you protect your rights and mount a defense against the charges brought against you.
Computers have become an integral part of our lives and, like all areas of our lives, that means that we need to be vigilant and protect ourselves from crime.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.