The crime of computer tampering varies by state. The crime of computer trespassing is a violation of state law and carries potential jail sentences ranging from up to three years in New Hampshire to up to five years in Virginia. In some states, the penalty is up to three years in prison, while others have laws that range from a misdemeanor or infraction up to five years.

Have you ever been curious about what the law says about computer crime? Well, we’re here to help. This post will give you a quick overview of the most common state laws surrounding computer crime.

Some of us might not think we have anything to worry about regarding computer crimes. After all, most states don’t even have laws against using a computer to commit a crime.

However, just because there are no laws doesn’t mean there are no penalties. Many states have computer crime laws that can result in jail time and fines.

For instance, in New York, if you are caught using a computer to commit a crime, you could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

If you’ve been accused or caught breaking the law, it can be tough to deal with a case in the court system. The penalties and fines are not always clear, and a conviction can have severe consequences on your personal life, future career, and financial standing. It’s unfortunate that many people have trouble understanding their rights when it comes to being prosecuted for breaking the law, which leads to a lot of confusion and miscommunication.

Computer Crime

Computer Crime Law By State

In New York, for example, the penalty for accessing someone else’s computer without permission is up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

In California, the penalty for unauthorized access to a computer is up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Some states are less strict than others. The penalties for breaking the law in New Hampshire are up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

So, the penalty for breaking the law varies by state.

Penalties for Computer Crime

Here’s a list of the most common penalties for computer crime and what they mean.

First-time offenders are usually given a warning, but if they’re found guilty of a second offense, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.

The following is a list of the most common crimes committed on computers:

These are just a few of the many crimes that computers can commit. You’ll face serious consequences if you’ve been convicted of any of these crimes.

For example, in Virginia, you can face up to five years in prison for hacking. This means you can be charged with a felony carrying a much longer sentence.

Computer Crime Charges

As long as you’re buying a house, there are a few crimes that you might get caught committing.

Let’s start with some of the most common ones.

Hacking or intruding into a network

Hackers or intruders could use a computer to hack into a system, steal information, or delete data.

For example, if you break into someone else’s computer, you could face a felony charge. It doesn’t matter whether you were doing it to look for something interesting or to cause damage.

However, you’re spreading a virus instead of breaking into a network. If you apply a virus, you could face misdemeanor charges.

Spreading a computer virus violates the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Loss of data

If you accidentally lose data, you can face misdemeanor charges. For example, if you lose a hard drive, you’re in trouble.

However, if you intentionally destroy a hard drive, you could face felony charges.

If you store stolen data, you’re in trouble. Storing stolen data violates the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

If you’re found to have stolen data, you also face a felony charge.

Misuse of computer services

If you misuse a computer service, you’re in trouble. Misusing a computer service violates the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

For example, if you’re found to have an infected computer, you’re facing a felony charge. 

Internet Crime Charges

You’ve probably heard the saying, “what happens on the internet stays on the internet.” This means that if you do something illegal on the Internet, it will likely be discovered by someone.

While there are many types of crimes on the Internet, the two most common ones are copyright infringement and fraud.

Copyright infringement occurs when someone takes content from another source and uses it for their gain. For example, if you took an image from a stock photo website and posted it on Instagram, you would have committed copyright infringement.

Copyright is a federally protected right. The person who owns the copyright can sue you for violating it. This is why you should never download any copyrighted material without permission.

Fraud is a broad term that covers a variety of criminal activities that occur on the Internet. Examples of fraud include creating fake accounts, stealing other people’s identities, and making false statements.

Fraud is a federal crime, so you’ll have to deal with the FBI. This means you’ll be charged with a felony. You could also be charged with a misdemeanor depending on the severity of your crime.

Fequently asked questions about Computer Crime Laws. 

Q: What are some computer crimes?

A: Basically, anything that violates the law. Computer crime includes hacking into someone’s personal information (like banking account numbers and Social Security numbers), defacing websites, and downloading copyrighted materials from the Internet.

Q: Can someone go to prison for this?

A: Yes. Computer crimes are federal crimes, which means the federal government handles them. But state laws can also apply. If the person is caught, they could face a fine, probation, or even jail time.

Q: What’s the best way to avoid these crimes?

A: The best way to avoid them is to keep your computer secure. This means using the latest operating system version, ensuring your antivirus program is up-to-date, and maintaining any programs you download from reputable websites.

Top myths about Computer Crime Laws 

  1. Computer crime is a new phenomenon.
  2. Computer crime is limited to the United States.
  3. Computer crime can be prosecuted on the Internet.
  4. Computer geeks primarily commit computer crime.


When it comes to computer crimes, punishment depends on several factors. There are federal laws and state laws, but also local ordinances. Some crimes may be subject to a fine, while others may carry serious jail time. In addition, some states have no laws, while others have very severe penalties.

Many of the crimes listed in this article were amended by Congress in 2014. For example, “hacking into a computer system” was changed to “accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access.” This means it’s now considered a federal crime to gain access to someone else’s computer without their consent.

That being said, the penalties in each state can vary greatly. Some states have strict penalties for certain computer crimes, while others have less severe penalties.