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Computer Crime in CA

In today’s high-tech world, it has become common to hear of computer crimes being committed against businesses, governments, and individuals.

While everyone is familiar with hacking, there are many other types of computer crimes where the consequences can be just as or even more serious than hacking. For those who live in California and commit computer crimes, they will quickly discover these crimes are taken very seriously by law enforcement and the courts. If they are arrested and jailed, bail may be set quite high. In order to make their bail and gain their freedom while awaiting trial, they will need to contact a bail bonds company with the experience and knowledge needed to help them navigate this complex legal process.

What is Protected Under California Law?

While people may assume crimes such as hacking are the only ones covered under California criminal laws, the truth is there are numerous types of computer crimes covered by these laws. Computers, computer systems, and computer networks of individual citizens as well as businesses and organizations are protected under these laws. As a result, computer-related activities that affect the use, confidentiality, and functionality of computers, systems, and networks are considered criminal acts and are subject to prosecution.

Who Can Be Charged With a Computer Crime?

When a computer crime is committed, California law allows authorities to actively seek out and arrest those deemed responsible. Because of this, an individual who accesses computers, systems, or networks and then chooses to alter, delete, disrupt, destroy, or change any aspect of these components can be charged with a computer crime under California law. In many of these situations, the seriousness of the crime and the person’s intent for engaging in unlawful access will determine what charges may be filed against them. In these situations, it is the responsibility of the prosecutor to show a defendant planned to commit deception, fraud, or extortion against another party, or planned to take control of money, information, or property not belonging to them.

Viruses and Data

In many computer crimes, hackers and other criminals introduce viruses to computer systems in an effort to destroy data, gain access to personal information, or even hold the systems hostage until they are paid a ransom. In these cases, California state laws criminalize these acts and give prosecutors significant legal options to bring those responsible to justice. In these cases, prosecutors must prove the defendant knowingly engaged in the act without permission or authorization, which if done will severely limit the defendant’s ability to mount a satisfactory defense. In other instances, individuals may be arrested for taking computerized records from an organization or copying data from a computer network without permission.

Defenses to California Computer Crimes

For those who are accused of committing computer crimes in California, there are some legal defenses they may be able to use for their case. For many who are charged with these crimes, the main course of defense involves claiming the activity in question was conducted as part of the lawful duties and tasks associated with their employment. By claiming any acts they committed were reasonably necessary to complete work assignments given to them by their supervisors, defendants and their legal team can attempt to place the blame on others. However, in most cases this defense fails to sway the courts.

Computer Crime Penalties

If a person is convicted of a computer crime in California, the penalties can vary depending upon the severity of the crime and the damage it inflicted on the victims. Because these crimes can be classified as both misdemeanors and felonies, sentences can involve fines, imprisonment, or both. In fact, fines can be as high as $10,000 and imprisonment can be in a county jail or state prison, with sentences ranging anywhere from one to three years. Along with these punishments, courts may sometimes award punitive damages to victims if the court determines they sustained extraordinary damage as a result of the computer crime. In cases where the defendant shows high levels of remorse, has no prior criminal history, and are deemed likely to not commit future crimes of this nature, courts may accept alternate sentencing or community service rather than fines or imprisonment.

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