Computer crime law covers a large range of offenses that can be perpetrated using a computer, tablet or similar device. The key is that the crime needs to be committed online.

Computer crimes violate both state and federal law, and they can be prosecuted in either Pennsylvania or federal court. Federal convictions will draw much tougher penalties than state convictions, and federal prosecutors will relentlessly seek the maximum punishment.

Federal Computer Crimes

Computer crimes that carry federal charges include:

  • Computer trespass or unauthorized access
  • Illegal downloading
  • Unlawful duplication of software
  • Identity theft
  • Launching malware and viruses
  • Computer tampering
  • Cyber terrorism
  • Cyber fraud
  • Online stalking

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, passed by Congress in 1986 and amended many times since, is the basic law used by federal prosecutors to prosecute computer crimes. This law was enacted to curtail computer crime, and legislators have tried to keep up with evolving criminal activities.

Other federal laws used to prosecute computer-related crimes include the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008, and some provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.

If you are indicted for a computer crime, you will need to retain a defense attorney who will stand up to federal authorities and protect your rights.