Computer Related Crimes in North Carolina

As the world today evolves, people, businesses, and governmental agencies, are relying more and more on computers and technology to conduct everyday business. With the rise in technology use, there is a new world of crimes that can be committed. You may have heard of, or been involved in, the Equifax data breach or recall the scandalous Ashley Madison information leak. Both of these events were major cybercrimes and compromised thousands of individuals' personal information. Cybercrimes are not always as large scale as the Equifax breach and can be as seemingly “harmless” as cyber-bullying or changing your grade on the school computer. However, even small-scale cyber-crimes can result in prison time and serious fines.

If you have been charged with a cybercrime, it is important to consult an attorney. The world of cybercrimes is relatively new, and it is important to consult an attorney to help you navigate the law. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, can review your specific situation and come with a plan to move forward. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

Federal Cybercrimes

In 2018 over 350,000 cybercrimes were reported to the FBI’s Internal Crime Complaint Center. However, only 15% of these crimes were reported to the police. With the constant rise in computer-related crimes, the FBI is cracking down on cybercrimes and educating computer users to make sure they protect themselves.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030 was enacted in 1986 and prohibits the use of computers for:

  • computer hacking in a government computer
  • computer trespassing that results in the exposure of government information or credit and financial information
  • damaging a government computer or bank computer via some form of cyberattack
  • accessing a government or bank computer to commit fraud
  • threatening to damage a government computer of the bank computer
  • collecting passwords for a government computer or bank computer
  • using a computer to commit espionage

The Act outlines three tiers of penalties for these cybercrimes. Depending on the crime, penalties can be punished as a misdemeanor or felony. The first tier is classified as misdemeanors and punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000. The second tier is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines. The third tier is applicable to repeat offenders and is punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment and $250,000. If you have been charged with a federal cybercrime, it is important to consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to begin building your case.

State Cybercrimes

North Carolina Statute §14-453 explicitly addresses computer-related crimes. A full, comprehensive list can be viewed here, and a few examples are listed below:

  • Extortion
  • Computer Trespass
  • Damaging computers, programs, systems, and networks
  • Accessing government computers for the purpose of fraud or by fraudulent pretenses
  • Cyber-bullying or other forms of criminal-threatening
  • Enticement of minors/child pornography
  • Theft of intellectual property
  • Cyber-stalking
Felony Cybercrimes

Felony cybercrimes are some of the most serious cybercrimes you can be charged with. Being convicted of a felony cybercrime can result in serious fines and jail time. Some examples of felony cybercrimes are:

  • Alter, damage, or destroy a government computer (Class F Felony)
  • A fraudulent scheme using a computer resulting in more than $1,000 (Class G Felony)
  • Willfully denying the use of government computer services without authorization (Class H Felony)
  • Extortion using a computer (Class H Felony)
  • Computer trespass with damages over $2,500 (Class I Felony)
  • First Degree Child Pornography (Class C Felony)
Misdemeanor Cybercrimes

Misdemeanor cybercrimes are less serious than felony charges but may still result in fines and potential jail time. Some examples of misdemeanor cybercrimes are:

  • Accessing a computer to falsify an educational test score or grade (Class 1 Misdemeanor)
  • Computer Trespass (Class 3 Misdemeanor)
  • Cyber-bullying if the defendant is 18 years or older (Class 1 Misdemeanor)
  • Cyber-bullying if the defendant is under the age of 18 (Class 2 Misdemeanor)
We Can Help

If you have been charged with a cybercrime, you may not know what to do next. The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, are here to help defend your innocence. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

For your convenience and safety, we now offer phone and video conferencing. If you prefer an in-person consultation, we have three easy to reach locations in Uptown Charlotte, Monroe, and Mooresville.