The government has accused you of accessing someone else’s email without permission. Now, you may be charged with a federal or state crime and face significant legal consequences. Do not wait any longer to find out what charges you may face, what fines you may pay, how many years you may spend in prison, or how a Virginia criminal defense lawyer may help you.
Hacking Crimes and Penalties
Depending on the circumstances of your situation, you may be charged with violating the:
- Virginia Computer Crimes Act. Virginia Statute § 18.2-152.5 makes it a crime to commit a computer invasion of privacy. A computer invasion of privacy occurs when you log in to someone else’s computer without permission and look at any financial, employment, or personally identifiable information. A first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both jail time and a fine. If you have a previous conviction pursuant to this law or any other substantially similar state or federal law, then you could be charged with a Class 6 felony and face one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Class 6 felony charges are also possible if you sell or distribute information you learned from hacking into someone else’s email or if you use the information to commit another crime.
- U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The government may charge you with violating 18 U.S.C. § 1030 if you intentionally accessed someone else’s email without permission and obtained information of value. Value is defined as at least $5,000 over the course of a year. Generally, this law applies to email accounts of banks, other financial institutions, government agencies, government officials, or email accounts that have information that impacts interstate or foreign commerce. The prison sentence for this crime may be one to five years for a first offense and ten years for a second offense.
- Federal Wire Fraud Act. Part of the U.S. Wire Fraud Law makes it a crime to steal confidential or personal information from someone else’s computer. If you access someone else’s email without authorization and the email passes between two or more states or countries, then you could be charged with violating the federal wire fraud act. You could face a fine and imprisonment of up to 20 years. Those penalties may be more significant if the email pertains to a national disaster, national emergency, or if it affects a financial institution.
Additionally, you could also be charged with other laws depending on how you used the information you learned from your unauthorized access of someone else’s email. For example, you could be charged with:
- Identity theft. If you access someone else’s email without permission with the intent to commit fraud or to sell or distribute personally identifiable information, then you may be charged with identity theft in Virginia. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, the penalty may include a significant fine and up to ten years in jail.
In some cases, you may be charged with more than one crime and face multiple penalties.
Contact a Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Hacking Defense
Each hacking charge requires the government to prove specific elements of the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the government fails to prove its case or if you have a legal defense, then you should not be convicted of a crime.
Our experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyers will investigate every angle of the case against you. We will meticulously analyze the government’s evidence and raise all applicable defenses so that you don’t pay for a crime that you did not commit.
An email hacking conviction could leave you not only with fines to pay and jail time to serve but also with other serious consequences for your professional and personal lives. Accordingly, we encourage you to stay in control of your defense and your future by contacting a Virginia email hacking defense attorney as soon as possible to get your questions answered, learn about your rights, and find out what to do next to protect yourself.