With the advancement in technology and our society’s reliance on computer to complete our daily and work tasks, this causes expansions in other areas, such as criminal law. Computer crimes can be very complex, as the laws that govern them are rapidly changing to keep up with the ever-evolving world of technology. However, these crimes frequently cover acts such as copyright infringement, hacking, malware and phishing. If an activity on the computer qualifies as a computer crime, an individual accused of committing such an act could face serious penalties.

What is the mental state required to commit a computer crime? In order to be convicted of a computer crime one must have the requisite mental state. This means that they must be willfully, knowingly or purposefully accessed computer-based data, intending to steal, destroy or alter computer-based information. It is not a crime, for example, to accidentally or unintentionally wander into area on the Internet where valuable secure information exists.

Depending on the allegations and the severity of the crime, an individual could face penalties based on state and federal laws. This could mean being charged with a misdemeanor for lower level offenses, or possibly a felony for a more significant alleged crime. Such a crime results in penalties such as imprisonment and hefty fines.

Because the penalties could be harsh, it is important that those accused of a computer crime understand the situation and how best to protect their rights. This means exploring criminal defense options that could help reduce and even dismiss the charges against them.