Analyzing Three Versions of Computer Crimes in Virginia
With the explosion of the use of technology in recent memory, it is not surprising that computer crime has followed a similar path. To help address this reality, the Commonwealth of Virginia features laws against computer crimes at the misdemeanor and felony levels. Depending on the type and nature of the offense in question, computer crimes can result in criminal fines and even prison time.
- Computer Fraud
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-152.3 provides the state laws against computer fraud. Under this section, a person commits computer fraud if they:
- Use a computer or computer network without authorization; and
- Employ false pretenses to obtain property or services;
- Commit larceny or embezzlement; or
- Convert another person’s property.
The punishment for a violation of Section 18.2-152.3 fluctuates based on the value of property or services in question. Any person who commits computer fraud involving property or services worth:
- Less than $1,000 — Will face Class 1 misdemeanor charges and the possibility of 12 months in county jail and up to $2,500 in criminal fines; or
- At least $1,000 — Will face Class 5 felony charges and the possibility of one to 10 years in prison and up to $2,500 in criminal fines.
- Computer Trespass
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-152.4 establishes the state laws against computer trespass. Under this section, a person commits computer trespass if, without authorization, they maliciously or, intending to deceive:
- Disrupt or otherwise disable computers or networks;
- Cause computer error or malfunction;
- Create or alter financial records or instruments;
- Use a computer to inflict physical injury or property damage; or
- Commit various other acts.
The punishment for a violation of Section 18.2-152.4 can change based on the value of property or services in question. Any person who commits computer trespass involving property or services worth:
- Less than $1,000 — Will usually face Class 1 misdemeanor charges and a substantially similar punishment to the one described above; or
- At least $1,000 — Will face Class 6 felony charges and the possibility of one to 10 years in prison and up to $2,500 in criminal fines.
- Computer Invasion of Privacy
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-152.5 details the state laws against computer invasion of privacy. Under this section, a person commits computer invasion of privacy if they:
- Use a computer or computer network; and
- Intentionally examine someone else’s identifying information, such as salary or credit, without authorization.
A violation of Section 18.2-152.5 is usually charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, the punishment will be substantially similar to the one described above.
On the other hand, computer invasion of privacy becomes a Class 6 felony if the offender:
- Previously violated Section 18.2-152.5 or a substantially similar law;
- Sold or distributed the identifying information in question; or
- Used the identifying information in question in the commission of another crime.
If convicted of the Class 6 felony version of computer invasion of privacy in Virginia, the punishment will be substantially similar to the one described above.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance with charges for a computer crime or similar offense, it can be extremely valuable to reach out to a trusted Winchester criminal defense lawyer. The results-driven lawyers at Simms Showers LLP understand how to mount an effective defense against criminal charges. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.