Computer hacking, and computer crimes in general, are a category of white-collar criminal offenses that are frequently charged under federal law. While the term “computer hacking” is often used generically to refer to offenses involving the computer, it is important to understand that there is no specific “computer hacking” offense for which a person can face charges. Rather, the term refers to a broader category of particular offenses. Our Dallas federal computer crimes attorneys want to provide you with more information about these types of offenses. The following are five things you should know about computer hacking crimes in Texas.
1. Hacking is a Broad Term That Houses Many Specific Criminal Offenses
Computer hacking is a general term that means “to gain illegal access to a computer network, system, etc.” As we noted above, there is no specific computer hacking crime for which a person can face charges. Instead, computer hacking is a broad term that houses many specific criminal offenses. Specific charges can include, for example, identity theft and computer fraud, trespassing in a government computer, obtaining national security information, trafficking in passwords, and extortion.
2. Criminal Charges for Computer Hacking Can Occur Under State or Federal Law
Criminal charges related to computer hacking can be brought under state or federal law. The specific charges you are facing will depend in part on whether you are being charged under state or federal law, and that distinction will also affect the potential penalties you could face upon conviction.
3. Most Federal Computer Hacking Offenses Are Charged Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986
Most charges specifically tied to computer hacking under federal law will be charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA), although it is important to know that you can face additional charges under other federal fraud laws, such as wire fraud or bank fraud, for offenses that involve computer hacking.
4. State Computer Hacking Charges Are Likely to Be Brought Under the Texas Breach of Computer Security Law
If you face state charges related to computer hacking in Texas, you will most likely be charged under the Texas Breach of Computer Security law under the Texas Penal Code. The statute says that “a person commits an offense if the person knowingly accesses a computer, computer network, or computer system without the effective consent of the owner.”
5. Computer Hacking Convictions Have Serious Consequences
If you are convicted of a criminal offense that involves computer hacking, you should know that you will be facing serious penalties, especially if you are convicted of a federal offense under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Nearly all offenses that can be charged under the CFAA can result in at least 1 year in prison upon conviction, and many offenses can result in 10 years or more in prison depending upon the specific offense.