Generally, there are six computer crimes under the United States Code:
- Accessing government computers to obtain classified information (18 U.S.C. § 1030(a));
- Accessing a computer without authorization (or exceeding same authorization) to obtain financial information from a bank or from the federal government (18 U.S.C. § 1030(a));
- Accessing a government computer intentionally and without authorization (18 U.S.C. §1030(a));
- Accessing and fraudulently using certain computers to obtain anything valued at more than $5,000 within one year. (18 U.S.C. § 1030(a));
- Knowingly causing the transmission of a virus and intentionally damaging certain computers (18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)); and
- Knowingly and with the intent to defraud, selling or transferring any computer password (or similar information) which enables the purchaser/transferee to access a government computer without authorization, or which enables the purchaser/transferee to access any computer which affects interstate and/or foreign commerce.
Computer Crimes may also be charged in conjunction with other federal criminal offenses such as identity theft, money laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud, etc…
In the federal criminal justice system, sentencing is based on a variety of factors set out in the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Perhaps the most important factor in a computer crimes offense case is the “loss amount”, which simply stated means the amount of money which is alleged to have been misappropriated and stolen from the victim(s).
Other important factors include the number of victims; whether the offense involved misappropriation of a trade secret; whether the defendant was convicted of a Federal criminal health care offense; whether the offense involved material misrepresentations (i.e. that the defendant was acting on behalf of a charitable, educational, religious or political organization, or a government agency); whether the defendant relocated the fraudulent scheme to another jurisdiction to evade law enforcement; whether the offense involved an organized scheme to steal or to receive certain goods; and whether the offense involved the conscious or reckless risk of death or serious bodily injury or the possession of a dangerous weapon.