New Jersey Defense Lawyers for Federal Computer Espionage Charges

Fraud and related activity in connection with a computers, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, is one of the most comprehensive statutes in the Federal Criminal Code. Included in this statute is Computer Espionage, under 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(1). Punishment under this portion of the statute is the same for a completed crime as it is for an attempted offense, or even a conspiracy to commit computer espionage.

What is Computer Espionage Under U.S. Federal Law?

The statute for computer espionage, while lengthy, is rather straightforward for those with experience handling these matters. Basically, computer espionage (also referred to as cyber espionage) is the unauthorized access of a computer and obtaining of (or intent to obtain) information related to matters of public safety, national security, or foreign relations. To be charged under cyber espionage, the information in question typically could be used to the injury of the United States or the benefit of its enemies, but it is not a defense that the information was not used at any point for such purposes.

Computer Espionage Defined Under 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(1)

The Federal Code reads as follows:

“Whoever, having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, and by means of such conduct having obtained information that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to an Executive order or statute to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national defense or foreign relations, or any restricted data [. . .] with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation willfully communicates, delivers, transmits, or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it.”

What are the Penalties if Convicted of Computer Espionage?

For first time offenders, individuals convicted of computer espionage can face up to ten years (per count) in a Federal Penitentiary. Conversely, individuals who have committed a prior offense under this statute can face up to twenty years (per count) in a Federal Penitentiary if convicted of a subsequent offense. As mention prior, the penalties are the same for conspiracies, attempts and completed crimes.

There are also several enhancement scenarios that would lend to an increase in the prison sentencing, including (but not limited to) those related to terrorism, RICO, identity theft, and offenses concerning Top Secret information. These provisions could potentially raise the minimum jail term to start at over 20 years, and range much higher.

If you or someone you know has been charged in the United States with committing, attempting, or conspiring to commit computer espionage, an experienced defense attorney is going to be essential to mounting a proper defense. Our attorneys are available to speak with you 24/7 at 1 (800) 879-9087 for a free, no-obligation case consultation. Contact us today.