Computer hacking is a serious crime. It’s a highly technical charge, which means that you will need to defend yourself by understanding the specific laws that apply to your case.
If you’re charged for computer hacking, the charge is making the assertion that you accessed another party’s computer system or network without permission or the authority to do so legally. There are at least four federal laws that may apply to your case, including:
- The Stored Communications Act (SCA)
- The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA)
- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)
- The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)
Each of these may apply under different circumstances, so it’s a good idea to find out if these or other laws apply to your case.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA, is the main law to be concerned with. This one specifically prohibits breaking into another person’s computer system. This unauthorized access is illegal, and the law aims to protect servers, laptops, cellphones, tablets and desktops from hacking.
What kinds of penalties could you face for a hacking charge?
Under the CFAA, you could face between one year and 10 years in prison for trafficking in passwords, depending on the number of offenses in your past. You could go to prison for five years if you use computers to extort money or assets. You might go to prison for between one and five years if you hack into a computer to steal information.
For cases involving national security, you could go to prison for 10 years on a first offense. Second convictions lead to penalties including up to 20 years in prison.
Victims of violations under the CFAA have options. They may seek the seizure of property from the offending party or ask for injunctive relief. They might also ask that the stolen information, and the devices used, be impounded so that they are no longer able to be accessed in the future.
If you are accused of a computer crime, know that this is a serious allegation. You do need to protect yourself because the penalties are significant.