Federal Charges of Computer Fraud

For individuals who are charged with federal violations of computer fraud, it is often essential to both quickly retain the services of a skilled attorney as well understand exactly how these types of charges are made.

Applicable Federal Law Concerning Computer Fraud

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 centralizes federal computer crimes. There are several types of activity under this law that are considered unlawful, which include the following:

  • Government Computers. It is unlawful for individual to knowingly gain access to government computers for the purpose of obtaining classified information concerning national security. Prosecution under this type of offense is seldom used and requires the approval of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.
  • Financial Details. It against the law for individual to access a computer without proper authorization in order to obtain financial information either the United States government or a federal institution like a bank.
  • Intentional Fraud. Individuals can violate the law by accessing government computers intentionally and without authorization. In these cases, there is no requirement that an individual has performed fraud.
  • Property over $5,000. There are particular federal crimes addressing individuals who improperly access computers belonging to either the United States government or a federal bank in order to obtain anything valued at more than $5,000 in a one year period. The property that is acquired must further the intended fraud.
  • Computer Viruses. There are specific federal laws addressing individuals who knowingly cause the transmission of a virus and intentionally cause damage to a protected computer. Damaging a protected computer does not always involve the unauthorized access of a computer system. In some cases, a virus need not even be directly sent to a victim’s computer.
  • Computer Passwords. There are specific federal laws addressing individuals who procure a password or login information to a government computer without proper access. It is similarly against the law for individuals to use a password to log into a non-government computer that affects either commerce between states or the United States and another country. Merely possessing passwords without intent to transfer is not prohibited by individuals. In the event that a transmission of the password does occur, it not required that individual intended to directly profit from this password transmission.

Potential Consequences

Individuals must appreciate that the United States Department of Justice takes these charges in a particularly serious manner and that being charged of any one of these offenses can result in significant penalties including fines and even a life in prison.

Available Defenses to Federal Computer Fraud Charges

There are several defenses available to individuals who are charged with computer fraud based upon the particular facts of each case. Some of the most common types of defenses to these charges include the following defenses:

  • Authorization.
  • Diminished Responsibility.
  • Entrapment.
  • Insanity.
  • Intent.
  • The Statute of Limitations Have Expired.

The Assistance of Knowledgeable Legal Counsel

When federal charges are made against individuals concerning computer fraud, strong legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome of a case. Attorney Henry Fasoldt has significant experience helping individuals in this type of situation reach positive results.