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Computer Crimes laws - Information on the law about Computer Crimes

class felony misdemeanor access

The body of laws governing crimes on the Internet are some of the most rapidly changing of all state laws. Controversy surrounding issues such as pornography on the Internet and the World Wide Web, the copying and posting of copyrighted information from an authorized site on the Internet to another site, and privacy of communication and access to materials on the Internet are still being hotly debated and no clear method for dealing with them has yet been devised. In addition, recent efforts to regulate the world of the Internet have taken place largely in the federal level. As of this writing, major federal legislation has just been enacted that covers many activities on the Internet, but the regulations have not yet been written enforcing its various provisions and much of the act is not yet effective. Accordingly, there is still much speculation about what the law means.

On the state level, the one thing upon which there is much unanimity is that theft of information or money in electronic form is much the same as theft in any other form. State laws on computer crime, therefore, focus on theft of information or money through the use of a computer or an on-line computer service.

Virtually every state requires that one have the requisite mental state before they may be convicted of a computer crime. One must willfully, knowingly or purposely access computer-based data and intend to steal, destroy or alter computer-based information, steal services, passwords, or otherwise interfere with hardware or software, etc. It is not enough for purposes of these laws to accidently or unintentionally wander into areas on the internet where valuable or secure information may reside. If one enters such an area using computers or computer technology, his/her intent must be to steal, destroy or defraud to be found guilty of a crime.

Only a handful of states don't explicitly ban access to certain computer files. In most states mere access can be prosecuted as a crime. In addition, many states have the additional requirement that damage sustained by the victim of the crime be of a certain amount before the crime becomes a felony. For example, in New Jersey, if damage is more than $200, it is a felony. If it is less, it is a misdemeanor. The limit is $1,000 in South Dakota, $10,000 in Connecticut. In very few states, there is either no misdemeanor provision at all, or no money amount distinguishing the one from the other.

As the technology becomes ubiquitous, the law in this controversial area is sure to be subject to tremendous change and development over the next few years. One new development that is only beginning is legislation regarding the use of computers in acts of terrorism. To date, only two states have provisions regarding computer crimes and acts of terrorism. For example, Indiana specifically mentions terrorism, but others imply it in language that makes it a crime to use computers to disrupt government services or public utilities. It is anticipated that in the next few years there will be a growing number of states defining certain computer crimes as terrorism and then enhancing the penalties for committing such crimes. In the meantime, this chapter can be used at least as a guidepost to identify the specific laws in question even if the specific provisions change in the details.

Table 7: Computer Crimes

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
ALABAMA 13A-8-100, et seq. Willfully, knowingly, without authorization or without reasonable grounds Access; alter, damage, or destroy hard/software valued under $2,500, class A misdemeanor Access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage, or destroy hard/software valued over $2500 or cause interruption of public/government services; class C felony if purpose of offense is to scheme, defraud or obtain property; class B felony if damage = or > $2,500; interruption of government operation or public/utility service; class A felony if action causes physical injury to person not involved in said act. No No
ALASKA 11.46.740 Knowingly, without reasonable grounds None Obtain or change information about a person, class C felony No No
ARIZONA 13-2316 Intentionally, knowingly, recklessly None Access; access plus scheme to defraud; computer fraud in the 1st degree, class 3 felony; computer fraud in the 2nd degree, class 5 felony No No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
ARKANSAS 5-41-101, et seq. Intentionally, purposefully Computer trespass, access with damage under $2500 but over $500, class A misdemeanor; access with no damage, class C misdemeanor; access as 2nd or subsequent violation with loss or damage under $500, class B misdemeanor; unlawful computerized communication, class A misdemeanor; computer fraud, class D felony Access with damage over $2500; computer fraud, class D felony No Yes
CALIFORNIA Penal Code 502 Knowingly, willful for additional punitive or exemplary damages Access; introduce virus; traffic in providing access; theft of services valued under $400, fine up to $5000 or imprisonment in county jail for up to 1 year, for first offense that doesn't result in injury Access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage or destroy hard/software valued over $5000; theft of services valued over $400; access and alters, destroys, uses, copies, damages data or disrupts computer services punishable by fine up to $10,000 or imprisonment in county jail for 1 year, for offense that results in injury or 2nd or subsequent offense No Yes
COLORADO 18-5.5-101 et seq. Knowingly Class 3 misdemeanor if loss or damage is less than $100; class 2 if between $100 and $500 Class 4 felony if between $500 and $15,000; class 3 felony if $15,000 or more No No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
CONNECTICUT 53a-250, et seq. Knowingly Class A misdemeanor: when unauthorized access to computer systems or theft computer services or interruption of computer services or misuse of computer system info or destruction of computer equipment and total damage exceeds $500; class B misdemeanor: same computer crimes and damages $500 or less Class B felony: when he/she commits same offenses listed above and damage exceeds $10,000; class C felony: ditto and damage exceeds $5,000; class D felony: ditto and damage exceeds $1,000 or reckless conduct creates risk of physical injury No Yes
DELAWARE 11 §§931, et seq. Knowingly, intentionally, recklessly, negligently Class A misdemeanor: when unauthorized access, theft of computer services, interruption of computer services, misuse of computer system info or destruction of computer equipment, sending commercial email after asked to stop, and damages $500 or less Class G felony: same offenses and damages >$500; class F felony: same offenses and damages exceeds $1,000 or risk of injury to another person; class E felony: same offenses and damages exceed $5,000; class D felony: same and damages exceed $10,000 No Yes
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA None          

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
FLORIDA 815.01, et seq. Willfully, knowingly, and without authorization Misdemeanor of the 1st degree: For offenses against computer equipment and supplies: if damage between $200 and $1,000 Felony in the 1st degree if: violation endangers human life; felony in 2nd degree if: damages are $5,000 or greater or offense was for purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or obtain property or interrupts or impairs government services or public service/utility; felony in the 3rd degree: all other violations. No Yes
GEORGIA 16-9-91, et seq. Note: Section does not specifically classify crimes listed as either felony or misdemeanor. Offenses listed in misdemeanor or felony columns are based on the levels of punishments imposed rather than by explicit classification. Knowingly, intentionally Traffic in passwords Computer theft, trespass (including modify, destroy, interfere with use), invasion of privacy, forgery No Yes

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
HAWAII 708-890, et seq. Intentionally, knowingly   Computer fraud: class B felony if knowingly defrauded, accessed computer without authorization and damage $300 or less in any 1 yr. period; class C felony if knowingly defrauded, transferred, or otherwise disposes of control of access; Computer Damage: class B felony if knowingly causes transmission that causes unauthorized damage or intentional access of a computer that causes damage; class C felony if knowingly accesses computer without authorization and recklessly causes damage. No No
IDAHO 18-2201 to 18-2202 Knowingly Use, access, or attempt to access Access or attempt to access with purpose to scheme, defraud or obtain property, money or services; alter, damage, or destroy computer, computer system, computer network or software/data/documentation Yes No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
ILLINOIS 720 1LCS 5/16D-1, et seq Knowingly Access or cause to be accessed, falsified email information or other routing information in transmission of unsolicited bulk email through email service provider or its subscribers or gives software enabling this, class B misdemeanor; access and obtain data or services, class A misdemeanor for 1st offense Class 4 felony: access with purpose to scheme, defraud or deceive; damages computer or alter, delete, or destroy program or data in connection with scheme, defraud or deceive; if offender accesses computer and obtains money or control of money in connection with his/her scheme, defraud or deception; class 3 felony if any of the above are 2nd or subsequent offense; class 4 felony: if value of money, property, or services is $1,000 or less or if 2nd or subsequent offense obtaining data or services; class 3 felony: if value between $1,000 and $50,000; class 2 felony: if value $50,000 or more Yes Yes
INDIANA 35-43-1-4; 35-43-2-3 Knowingly; intentionally Access, class A misdemeanor Class D felony: computer tampering; class C felony if for purpose of terrorism; class B felony if for purpose of terrorism and results in serious bodily harm to a person No No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
IOWA 714.1 et seq.; 714E.1; 716.6B; 702.1A; 702.14 Knowingly Theft of data or services with value between $500 and $1000, aggravated misdemeanor; $200–500, serious misdemeanor; under $200, simple misdemeanor; access of computer, simple misdemeanor Theft of data or services with value over $10,000, class C felony; value between $1000 and $10,000, class D felony No Yes
KANSAS 21-3755 Intentionally Criminal computer trespass and computer password disclosure are class A nonperson misdemeanors Computer crime is a severity level 8 nonperson felony Yes No
KENTUCKY 434.840, et seq. Knowingly, intentionally Unlawful access to a computer in 2nd degree is class A; unlawful access in 4th degree is a class B misdemeanor Unlawful access to computer in 1st degree, class C felony; misuse of computer info is a class C felony; unlawful access in 2nd degree is a class D felony Yes No
LOUISIANA 14:73.1, et seq. Note: Section does not specifically classify crimes listed as either felony or misdemeanor. Offenses listed in misdemeanor or felony columns are based on the levels of punishments imposed rather than by explicit classification. Intentionally Alter, damage or destroy hard/software valued under $500; interfere with use of another valued under $500 Alter, damage or destroy hard/software valued over $500; interfere with use of another valued over $500; computer fraud No No
MAINE Tit. 17-A §§431, et seq. Intentionally; knowingly Access Copying; alter, damage or destroy hard/software; introduce virus No No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
MARYLAND Crim. Law §7-302 Intentionally; willfully A person who illegally accesses computer is guilty of a misdemeanor If aggregate amount of loss is over $10,000 Yes No
MASSACHUSETTS Ch. 266 §33A Intentionally none none Yes No
MICHIGAN 752.791, et seq. Intentionally If violation involves $200 or less If violation involves more than $1000 No No
MINNESOTA 609.87, et seq. Intentionally Misdemeanor: commission of unauthorized computer access; Gross Misdemeanors: commission in a manner that creates risk to public health/safety, commission in a manner that compromises the security of data, conviction of second or subsequent misdemeanors within 5 years Commission of unauthorized computer access in a manner that creates a grave risk of causing death of a person, conviction of second or subsequent gross misdemeanor Yes No
MISSISSIPPI 97-45-1, et seq. Note: Section does not specifically classify crimes listed as either felony or misdemeanor. Offenses listed in misdemeanor or felony columns are based on the levels of punishments imposed rather than by explicit classification Intentionally Access; any of the following, causing damages less than $100: interfere with use; alter, damage or destroy hard/software; traffic in passwords Access plus scheme to defraud; any of the following, causing damages greater than $100: interfere with use; alter, damage or destroy hard/software; traffic in passwords No No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
MISSOURI 537.525, 569.094, et seq. Knowingly Class A misdemeanor: tampering with computer equipment, tampering with computer users Tampering with computer equipment with purpose to scheme, defraud, or obtain property the value of which is $150 or more is class D felony; if damage to computer or related parts is between $150 and $1,000, then class D felony; if damage is $1,000 or more, then class C felony; tampering with computer users with purpose to scheme, defraud, or obtain property the value of which is $150 or more, class D felony No Yes
MONTANA 45-2-101, 45-6-310 to 45-6-311 Knowingly, purposefully Any of the following, causing damages less than $1000, access; access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage or destroy hard/software Any of the following, causing damages greater than $1000: access; access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage or destroy hard/software No No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
NEBRASKA 28-1343, et seq. Intentionally Commission of unauthorized computer access in a manner that creates risk to public health/safety is class I misdemeanor; commission of unauthorized computer access in a manner that compromises the security of data is class II misdemeanor; unlawfully accessing computer to obtain confidential public info is class II misdemeanor; second or subsequent offense is a class I misdemeanor; accessing without authorization or exceeding authorization is class V misdemeanor; second or subsequent offense is class II Access with intent to deprive or obtain property/services is a class IV felony; if value of property/services is $1,000 or more, then class III felony; access and damage, disruption, or distribution of destructive computer program, then class IV felony; if losses with a value of $1,000 or more, then class III felony; if causes grave risk of causing death, then class IV felony No No
NEVADA 205.473, et seq. Knowingly, willfully Unlawful access is a misdemeanor as well as unlawful interference with or denial if access or use Unlawful access done to defraud or obtain property or causing damages excess of $500 or interrupts/impairs public service/utility is a class C felony; unlawful interference with or denial of access of use done to defraud or obtain property is a class C felony. Yes No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
NEW HAMPSHIRE 638:16, et seq. Knowingly Computer crime is a misdemeanor if damage is $500 or less Computer crime with damages exceeding $1,000 is a class A felony; computer crime with damages exceeding $500 or offender's conduct creates risk of physical injury is a class B felony No No
NEW JERSEY 2C:20-23, et seq. Note: Section does not specifically classify crimes listed as either felony or misdemeanor. Offenses listed in misdemeanor or felony columns are based on the levels of punishments imposed rather than by explicit classification. Purposely, knowingly Access; any of the following, causing damages less than $200: access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage or destroy hard/software Access; any of the following, causing damages greater than $200: access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage or destroy hard/software No No
NEW MEXICO 30-45-1, et seq. Knowingly, willfully Any of the following, causing damages less than $250: access; access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage or destroy hard/software; disclosure, copy or display of computer information; less than $100 is a petty misdemeanor Any of the following, causing damages greater than $250: access; access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage or destroy hard/software; disclosure, copy or display of computer information; $250 to $2500 in damages, 4th degree felony; $2500 to $20,000, 3rd degree felony, $20,000 or greater, 2nd degree felony No No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
NEW YORK Penal Code 156.00, et seq. Knowingly; intentionally Unauthorized use of computer is a class A misdemeanor; computer tampering in fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor Computer tampering in third degree is a class E felony; computer tampering in second degree is a class D felony; computer tampering in first degree is a class C felony; unlawful duplication of computer related material is a class E felony; criminal possession of computer related material is a class E felony Yes No
NORTH CAROLINA 14-453, et seq. Willfully Class 1 misdemeanors: unlawful access of computers for purposes other than to scheme, defraud, or obtain property; altering, damaging, or destroying computer software, programs or data Class G felony: to access computer with purpose to scheme, defraud, obtain property; also Class G felony: to damage computer, computer system, computer network, or parts thereof; Class F felony: access to any government computer; Class H felony: denying access to government computer services No Yes
NORTH DAKOTA 12.1-06.1-08 Intentionally Computer crime is a class A misdemeanor Computer fraud is a class C felony Yes Yes
OHIO 2913.01, et seq. Knowingly 4th degree misdemeanor: unauthorized use Unauthorized use of computer property is felony of the 5th degree Yes No

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
OKLAHOMA Tit. 21, §§1951, et seq. Willfully Access or use of cause to be used computer services Access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage or destroy hard/software; denial of access; traffic in passwords. There are several prohibited acts under the Computer Crimes Act classified as a felony Yes Yes
OREGON 164.125; 164.377 Knowingly Access is class A misdemeanor; theft of services is class C misdemeanor if total of services is less than $50. class A misdemeanor if total of services is more than $50 but less than $750 Class C felony: access plus scheme to defraud; alter, damage or destroy hard/software; theft of data or services Yes No
PENNSYLVANIA Tit. 18 §7601, et seq. Intentionally and knowingly Unlawful transmission of e-mail is misdemeanor of 3rd degree; unless causes damage of $2,500 or more, then misdemeanor of 1st degree. Unlawful use, disruption of service, theft, unlawful duplication, trespass and distribution of virus are felonies of 3rd degree. No No
RHODE ISLAND 11-52-1, et seq. Purposefully, intentionally; knowingly Theft of data or services valued under $500; cyberstalking Access of computer for fraudulent purposes; intentional access, alteration, damage, or destruction; computer theft with a value over $500; use if false information and tampering with computer source documents No Yes

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
SOUTH CAROLINA 16-16-10, et seq. Willfully, knowingly, maliciously Computer crime in the second degree, class A misdemeanor; Computer crime in the third degree, class B misdemeanor Computer crime in the first degree, class E felony; second or subsequent convictions of computer crimes in the second degree, class F felony No No
SOUTH DAKOTA 43-43B-1, et seq. Knowingly Obtaining use, altering or destroying system, access and disclosure without consent where value is $1000 or less, class 1 misdemeanor; obtaining use, altering or destroying system as part of deception where value involved is $1000 or less, class 1 misdemeanor Obtaining use, altering or destroying system, access and disclosure without consent where value involved is more than $1000, class 6 felony; Obtaining use, altering or destroying system as part of deception; value is more than $1000, class 4 felony Yes No
TENNESSEE 39-14-601, et seq.; 39-14-105 Knowingly, directly or indirectly Access is class C misdemeanor; introducing virus is class B; hacking into any computer system is class A Access for purpose of fraudulently obtaining money, property or services; act of terrorism Yes Yes

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
TEXAS Penal Code 33.01, et seq. Knowingly, intentionally Break of computer security is class B misdemeanor; class A if the amount involved is above $1,500 Break of computer security is a state of jail felony if amount involved is between $1,500 and $20,000 or amount is less than $1,500 and defendant has previous conviction; felony of third degree is amount between $20,000 and $100,000; felony of second degree if amount between $100,000 and $200,000; felony of first degree if amount is $200,000 or above No No
UTAH 76-6-702, et seq. Intentionally, knowingly When damage is under $300 or info is not confidential then class B misdemeanor; when damage is between $300 and $1,000, then class A When damage is between $1,000 and $5,000, third degree felony; when damage is or exceeds $5,000 then second degree, there is also a third degree felony Yes No
VERMONT Tit. 13 §4101 et seq. Knowingly, intentionally     No Yes

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
VIRGINIA 18.2-152.1, et seq. Intentionally Computer fraud with value of property or services less than $200, class 1 misdemeanor; Computer trespass is class 3 misdemeanor; if damages $2,500 or more, then class 1; computer invasion of privacy is class 1; theft of computer services is class 1; personal trespass by computer done unlawfully but not maliciously is class 1; computer harassment is class 1 Computer fraud with value of property or services obtained $200 or more, class 5 felony; computer trespass with damages $2,500 or more caused by malicious act, class 6; Personal trespass by computer done maliciously is class 3 No Yes
WASHINGTON 9A.52.110, et seq. Intentionally Computer trespass in second degree is a gross misdemeanor Computer trespass in first degree is class C felony No No
WEST VIRGINIA 61-3C-1, et seq. Knowingly, willfully Unauthorized access to computer services; unauthorized possession of computer data or programs having value under $5,000; disruption or denial of computer services; unauthorized possession of computer information; disclosure of computer security info; obtaining confidential public info.; computer invasion of privacy Computer fraud and access to legislature computer; unauthorized possession of computer data or programs having value of $5,000 or more; alteration, destruction, etc. of computer equipment Yes Yes

Table 7: Computer Crimes—Continued

State Code Section Mental State Required for Prosecution Misdemeanor Felony Attempt Proscribed Civil Action
WISCONSIN 943.70 Willfully, knowingly Offenses against computer data and programs class A misdemeanor; offenses against computers, computer equipment and supplies is class A misdemeanor Offenses against computer data and programs is if offense is to defraud or obtain property, class I; if damage greater than $2500 or act causes interruption or impairment of govt operations or public utility or service, class D; if offense creates risk of death or bodily harm to another, class F; offense against computer, computer equipment or supplies is class I if offense is done to defraud or obtain property; class H if damage is under $2500; and class F if act creates risk of death or bodily harm to another No Aggrieved party may sue for injunctive relief
WYOMING 6-3-501, et seq. Knowingly Crime against computer equipment and supplies Crimes against intellectual property (means data including programs); crimes against computer equipment and supplies if done with intent to scheme, defraud, or obtain property; crimes against computer users when value is above $750 No No
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about 3 years ago

email hacking to investigate infidelity in Missouri. What is the statute of limitation for email password cracking for a ex spouse, when no monetary damage is involved.

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about 3 years ago

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I want to make a purchase of Laptop specs , i5 or i7 with 4GB,500 hard drive if is HP ,DELL or Toshiba.
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over 3 years ago

Which states don't have laws against email hacking? Does D.C. not have any? Thanks