Computer hacking is frequently in the news. Hackers have infiltrated government institutions, private companies and individuals. Everyone is vulnerable to hacking.

Hacking involves using a computer to obtain unauthorized access to another data system. Hacking can be used steal personal information, infect business systems or even steal money.

What laws cover these computer crimes and what are the potential penalties?

Federal laws against hacking

Hacking crimes are frequently prosecuted by the federal government. There are several federal statutes that are enforced by the Department of Justice, including wire fraud and wiretapping. Wiretapping can lead to five years in prison per violation while wire fraud can lead to a 20-year sentence.

More specific federal hacking laws are found in 18 U.S. Code Section 1030. These laws prohibit trafficking passwords, damaging computers and computer fraud. Most violations are punishable by fines or a prison sentence of 10 years. Prison sentences may be doubled due to multiple convictions. Fines may be more expensive depending on the financial damage caused by the hack.

Ohio laws against hacking

With the rapid change in technology, states have come up with their own computer crime laws, including Ohio. Ohio laws cover hacking with varying prohibitions and penalties. Computer crime laws in Ohio include misdemeanor and felony crimes. A misdemeanor computer crime may be sending spam while a felony computer crime may be using another computer without authorization.

Mental intent

Ohio law requires the defendant to have knowingly committed the crime. Essentially, the hacker must be certain that their actions will accomplish the illegal result. It can prove difficult to decide what charges to press and to determine whether there was mental intent. For example, what evidence is there that the defendant did not simply make an error?

Common computer crimes

Computer crime laws prohibit a wide range of activities including:

  • Modifying, disclosing, damaging or copying data.
  • Improperly accessing a network, system or computer.
  • Introducing a virus into a computer.
  • Interfering with computer use or access.

Hacking and computer crime describe a variety of offenses that range from fraud to stealing credit card information.

Penalties for computer crimes range from fines to decades in prison. Due to the various state and federal laws pertaining to the crime, it is crucial to understand the laws as much as possible. If you are facing charges for hacking or white collar computer crime, you may benefit from contacting a criminal defense attorney to know your rights and have the proper legal defense.