NJ Computer Fraud Defense Attorneys – Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Charges

Computer fraud is not the same as the common law crime of fraud employed by a majority of states. Fraud under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) only requires a showing of unlawful access of a computer or computer service.  The court in eBay Inc. v. Digital Point Solutions, Inc., held that there is no need to plead the more particular elements of common law fraud to state a claim under the Act. Therefore, having a full and technical understanding of Computer Fraud under the United States Criminal Code is mandatory before anyone can mount a defense against these charges.

Computer Fraud Defined Under 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(4)

Under the Computer Fraud provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, it is illegal for an individual to knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization, or exceeds authorized access, and by means of such conduct furthers the intended fraud and obtains anything of value, unless the object of the fraud and the thing obtained consists only of the use of the computer and the value of such use is not more than $5,000 in any 1-year period.

– 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(4)

What is Unauthorized Access of a Computer Under Federal Computer Fraud Laws?

Computer Fraud Defense LawyersDefining what exactly constitutes unauthorized access of a Computer has been difficult for the courts in recent years. However, the court in U.S. v. Morris issued a ruling that helped outline the extent of unauthorized use going forward. In that case, the court stated that the Defendant’s transmission of a computer “worm” constituted accessing federal interest computer without authorization, under statute punishing anyone who intentionally accesses without authorization these computers interferes with authorized use of information in those computers causing loss of $1,000 or more.

There, the  defendant used a computer program that transferred and received electronic mail, as well as a program that permitted persons to obtain limited information about users of another computer in order to spread the “worm” into group of national networks that connected university, governmental, and military computers around the country to further this unlawful use.

What are the Penalties, Jail, and Fines for Federal Computer Fraud Convictions?

As is the case with the companion federal computer crimes under 18 U.S.C. § 1030, Computer Fraud carries significant penalties upon conviction. For first time offenders (under this statute), a conviction will carry a serious fine and a term of imprisonment up to five (5) years. Conversely, for repeat offenders under this statute, a conviction will carry ten years of incarceration, in addition to any court imposed fines.

If you or someone you love are facing charges for Computer Fraud at the federal level, contact the computer fraud defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall and speak with a qualified federal cybercrime attorney today.