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Computer crimes and their associated penalties

In an age where just about everything is computer based, crimes involving computers are ever-increasing. Because this is a growing issue, California laws have been put in place to protect computers, regardless if they are individually or commercially owned and operated. Penalties associated with computer crimes typically vary based on the crime alleged but, in any case, can be severe.

Anyone who knowingly gains unlawful access to a computer, computer network or system and, changes, deletes, destroys or disrupts information or functions, may find themselves charged with a computer crime. Several different categories exist under computer crime charges. The supposed purpose of the crime will determine what types of charges are filed.

Penalties associated with computer crimes also vary based on the type of crime committed. Generally speaking, consequences include fines and/or imprisonment. Several different factors are taken into account when imposing sentences for computer crimes which include:

  • The type of computer crime
  • The value of the losses the victim suffered
  • The severity of the crime
  • Any previous criminal history on record

The fines for computer crimes, along with any ordered restitution payments, can be financially damaging to those convicted of these crimes. The addition of a possible of a prison sentence, which can range anywhere from one to three years, can have a dramatic impact on a person's life. A strategic criminal defense may be able to offer California residents who are accused of these crimes a variety of defense tactics that are appropriate for the charges at hand and seek for the best possible outcome, which may include a dismissal of charges or alternative sentencing options.

Source: FindLaw, "California Computer Crime Laws", , Sept. 10, 2014

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results