About Computer Crime, Laws, Charges & Convictions
The term computer crime refers to any kind of crime that involves the use of computers and a network. The computer may have been a tool that was used in the crime, or it may be the target of the crime. A related set of crimes is known as net crimes, which refers to the criminal use of the World Wide Web. Another related crime is cyber crimes, which is committed against people or groups with criminal intent with the motivation to hurt the reputation of the person, or cause mental or physical pain to the person.
Computer crimes have become more and more common and significant. This is especially the case in such crimes as computer intrusion, copyright infringement, child pornography, espionage and financial crimes.
The FBI states that just computer intrusions costs billions of dollars per year for companies to repair. Some of these attacks can take out very critical systems, such as 911 services and the computer networks of hospitals and banks.
About Computer Crime Laws in Massachusetts
In 1995, the state legislature in this state passed a new bill that fixed several holes related to computer crime in Massachusetts. Before this law was passed, computer crimes were only defined as to someone who took data from a computer system without prior authorization. Hacking was not against the law and could not be punished. The new law fixed these holes in several ways.
- Prohibits access to any computer by network or phone without prior permission
- Defines data that is electronically stored/processed as property
- Prohibits the stealing of commercial computer services
Some of the serious computer or cybercrimes you can be charged with in the state of Massachusetts include:
- Cyberstalking: harassing a person online. Sentence can be up to 5 years.
- Child pornography: receipt, distribution, or production of. Sentence can be from 5-20 years.
- Identity theft: sentence is up to 2.5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Hate crimes: a crime that targets who a person is, based upon race, religion, gender, color, etc. Sentences can vary depending on the offense.
- Hacking: Sentence can be up to 2.5 years and a fine of up to $3000.
- Copyright infringement: sentence can be up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.
Computer Crime Statistics
While exact statistics for computer crimes are not available in the state, we do know that in 2009, the FBI reported that it received a total of 336,655 complaints of computer crime. This was an increase of 22% from 2008. The total losses from the cases reported in 2009 was almost $600 million. Some of the most common computer crimes reported included computer intrusions, identity theft and child pornography.
One of the reasons that computer crimes are so hard to track is that much of it originates overseas. Although the people affected may reside in the US or in a specific state, it is very common for computer hackers and scammers to work out of China, Nigeria, South Africa, the UK and even Canada.
If you have been accused of computer crime, or any other serious crime, contact the Law Offices of Geoffrey G. Nathan, one of Massachusetts top Boston Criminal Attorneys. He has the experience and legal skills needed to handle serious criminal matters. To arrange an office consultation, contact us now.