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What is Computer Hacking, and is It a Crime?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

We’ve all seen movies and TV shows where hackers crack the code into a top-secret system, copy vital information, or change data – and if you’re like most people, you probably know that’s a crime. But how serious is it, and will you go to prison if you’re caught hacking into a computer system for any reason? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Computer Hacking?

Computer hacking is a term that describes accessing another person’s computer and data without permission. You can be charged with hacking if you willfully, knowingly and without authorization:

  • Modify data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Destroy data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Access computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Take possession of data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Copy data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Disclose restricted access codes or other restricted access information to unauthorized persons
  • Cause an interruption in service by submitting a message, or multiple messages, to a computer, computer program, computer system, or computer network that exceeds the processing capacity of the computer, computer program, computer system, or computer network

Is it Illegal to Look at Someone Else’s Computer Files Without Their Permission?

It’s illegal to view another person’s password-protected files, including email. That means even if you share a computer, you can’t log into someone else’s email account and start reading.

What is the Punishment for Computer Hacking?

Computer hacking is usually a Class A misdemeanor, and that means you could spend up to 9 months in jail. The court could also sentence you to pay a fine of up to $10,000. However, in some cases, computer hacking is a felony. It becomes a:

  • Class I felony if you do it to defraud or obtain property
  • Class F felony if it results in damage valued at more than $2,500
  • Class F felony if it causes an interruption or impairment of government operations or public communication, of transportation, or of a supply of water, gas or another public service
  • Class F felony if it creates a substantial and unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm to another person

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Computer Hacking Charges?

If you’ve been accused of a computer crime – including computer hacking – we may be able to help you. Call 414-383-6700 for a free consultation; you can ask us your questions and we can start developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-08-08T14:16:45-05:00May 31st, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What is Computer Hacking, and is It a Crime?

What is the Penalty for Computer Hacking?

By Carlos Gamino

Computer hacking – the act of getting into someone else’s digital data without authorization, even if you don’t do anything with the data you find – is a serious crime in Wisconsin. In fact, it can even be a federal crime. It’s often a good idea to work with a computer crime defense attorney if you’re in this type of trouble; the penalties can be extremely harsh and even include prison time.

Computer Hacking Laws in Wisconsin

Under Wisconsin law, the state can charge you with a hacking crime if you do any of the following:

  • Modify data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Destroy data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Access computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Take possession of data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Copy data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Disclose restricted access codes or other restricted access information to unauthorized persons

Likewise, the state can charge you with a hacking crime if you intentionally cause an interruption in service by submitting a message (or multiple messages) to a computer, program, system or network that exceeds its processing capacity (such as a DDOS attack).

As you can see, you don’t have to know anything about computer coding to be charged as a hacker; you can get into trouble by changing or deleting files, accessing programs with another person’s password or even copying data that doesn’t belong to you.

Related: Computer sex crime charges

Penalties for Computer Hacking in Wisconsin

The penalties for computer hacking in Wisconsin vary based on the circumstances of the case. If you commit the offense to defraud or obtain property, it’s a Class I felony. However, it’s a Class F felony if:

  • The offense results in damage valued at more than $2,500
  • Interrupts or impairs government operations or public communication, transportation, or a supply of water, gas or any other public service
  • Creates a substantial and unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm to another person

Even worse, if you try to hide the identity or location of the computer you use to commit the crime, your penalties will increase.

Do You Need to Speak With an Attorney About Computer Hacking Charges in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been accused of any hacking offense, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now – we can provide you with a free consultation. We’ll be glad to answer your questions and help you get things moving in the right direction.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-07-17T09:27:10-05:00April 5th, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What is the Penalty for Computer Hacking?

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