You may have heard the phrase “computer crime” before. You may even vaguely know what a computer crime is, but you don’t understand what exactly it entails. Criminal law is ever-changing and can get complicated. In this article, we will explore the elements of a criminal offense that falls under criminal law: computer crimes.
What constitutes a computer crime?
A computer crime is any intentional act that would violate a federal, state or local law and involves the use of computers. This can include anything from unauthorized access to data on a system to accessing someone else’s email account without permission. The severity of punishment for criminal offenses varies depending on the nature of the offense.
Examples of computer crimes in Texas
If you illegally use a computer to access another person’s password without their consent, that is an offense under Penal Code §30.02(a)(14).
If you illegally hack into someone else’s social media account or email, then post content from those accounts on the internet in order to defame them, you may get charged under the criminal defamation law. Similarly, using a computer to access someone else’s private electronic communications without their consent for the purpose of sexual harassment, you may get charged under the criminal harassment law.
You may also get charged if you create a webpage with the intent to cause damage to a computer or other property.
There are many other forms of computer crimes in Texas, but these ones are some of the most common.
Common penalties for computer crimes under criminal law
Some of the fines that you can face if convicted in a Texas court for computer crimes include a $500 to $2000 fine and/or prison time from six months up to two years.
If you’re in possession of over 100 items gained via computer crimes, then your penalties may increase. For example, if a court finds you guilty of criminal harassment and you have 300 items in your possession, then your penalties may include two to three years’ confinement. The fines that you can receive for a computer crime conviction will depend on the specific offense.
It can be stressful to find yourself facing a computer crime charge. Things can get worse if there are other violations. Thankfully, with an understanding of your legal options and good legal representation, it’s possible to get a desirable outcome.