According to the Code of Virginia, any person who uses a computer network, without authority and:
- Obtains property or services by false pretenses;
- Embezzles or commits larceny or;
- Converts the property of another;
is guilty of the crime of computer fraud.
If the value of the property or services obtained is $1000.00 or more, the crime of computer fraud shall be punishable as a Class 5 felony.
If the value of the property or services obtained is less than $1000.00, the crime of computer fraud shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
On the other hand, computer trespassing is defined differently.
It shall be unlawful for any person, with malicious intent, to:
- Temporarily or permanently remove, halt, or otherwise disable any computer data, computer programs or computer software from a computer or computer network;
- Cause a computer to malfunction, regardless of how long the malfunction persists;
- Alter, disable, or erase any computer data, computer programs or computer software;
- Effect the creation or alteration of a financial instrument or of an electronic transfer of funds;
- Use a computer or computer network to make or cause to be made an unauthorized copy in any form, including, but not limited to, any printed or electronic form of computer data, computer programs or computer software or computer software residing in, communicated by, or produced by a computer or computer network;
- Install or cause to be installed, or collect information through, computer software that records all or a majority of the keystrokes made on the computer of another without the computer owner’s authorization;
- Install or cause to be installed on the computer of another, computer software for the purpose of (i) taking control of that computer so that it can cause damage to another or (ii) disabling or disrupting the ability of the computer to share or transmit instructions or data to other computers or any related computer equipment or devices, including but not limited to printers, scanners, or fax machines.
Any person who violates this section is guilty of computer trespass, which shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Any person who violates this section for the purposes of affecting a computer that is exclusively for the use, or exclusively used by or for (i) the Commonwealth or any local government within the Commonwealth or any department of agency thereof of (ii) a provider of telephone, including wireless or voice over Internet protocol, oil, electric, gas, sewer, wastewater, or water service to the public is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
If there is damage to the property of another valued at $1000.00 or more caused by such person’s act in violation of this section, the offense shall be a Class 6 felony.
If a person installs or causes to be installed computer software in violation of this section on more than five (5) computers of another, the offense shall be a Class 6 felony.
If you are charged with computer fraud or computer trespass in Hampton Roads or on the Peninsula, you can call our office to discuss your case before you go to court.