What is Computer Crime?
With the growing popularity of computer use, the statutes governing computer crimes have been amended in recent years to keep up with the changing technology. All computer criminal activity is deemed an indictable criminal offense in New Jersey, ranging from first to fourth degree depending on the circumstances. A person is guilty of computer criminal activity if they purposely or knowingly access, alter, damage, take, copy or use any data, program, equipment, network or other computer media from another without authorization. A person charged with committing a computer crime may also face a separate charge for wrongful computer access and, if found guilty, a separate sentence for each conviction.
Harsher Penalties for Substantial Damage or Certain Victims
A conviction for any type of computer criminal activity is advanced to a first degree offense if it results in a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service. For an interruption to be “substantial” it must affect 10 or more structures, last for at least two hours, create a risk of death or significant bodily injury, cause damages in over $250,000 or cause significant bodily injury to any person.
Additionally, computer crime offenses may have stricter penalties if a victim is either a government agency or minor. A defendant is held strictly liable and faces automatic imprisonment if the victim of his or her computer activity is a government agency. Any computer crime committed against a person less than 18 years of age amounts to an aggravating circumstance which may heighten the sentence assigned by the court. The sentences and fines ordinarily imposed under New Jersey law are as follows:
• Fourth degree crime – up to 18 months imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines
• Third degree crime – 3 to 5 years imprisonment and up to $15,000 in fines
• Second degree crime – 5 to 10 years imprisonment and up to $150,000 in fines
• First degree crime – 10 to 20 years imprisonment and up to $200,000 in fines
Get a NJ Computer Crime Attorney
If you have been charged with a computer crime in the state of New Jersey, it is important to contact an experienced attorney to help protect and defend your rights. The experienced criminal defense attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. will review all the facts of your case to determine if you have a viable defense. Call (732) 709-7757 today for a free initial consultation. We represent clients facing criminal charges throughout Ocean and Monmouth County New Jersey.