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A person who modifies computer software and hardware to accomplish tasks outside of their intention is guilty of hacking.
The act is not only annoying but also a crime punishable by law in the state of California. Individuals convicted of computer crimes may face jail time that requires the assistance of a bail bond professional. Such is the reason why understanding what constitutes hacking in the Golden State is crucial.
What Constitutes a Computer Crime in California?
Hacking is not just a matter of spreading a virus on a computer or database. Destroying pertinent documents and changing information so that it fits the guilty party’s agenda is also a form of intrusion.
Individuals in the state of California receive punishment for computer crimes according to the motivation behind their hacking. A guilty party’s plan to disrupt an entire database for the purpose of identity theft may receive a harsher sentence than a person whose motivation was to delete a file at work to cover up a minor mistake.
Prosecutors delve further into the purpose of computer crimes to determine just how much chaos the suspect intended to cause. A person who hacked the system with the intent of dismantling a company’s system can be confident that he will reap serious repercussions for his actions. Not only was his decision disruptive to the flow of business, but such massive hacking probably cost the company thousands to repair as well.
Although not as harmful as a major virus that renders a database useless for hours or even days, employees who extract information from a computer system without proper authorization are also guilty of a computer crime. The punishment becomes more significant if stolen data was sensitive material that leaked into mainstream media and caused a stir. A person could find himself serving several years in federal prison for such a violation.
The Knowledge Requirement
Although California has strict laws concerning hacking that criminalizes simple violations such as a confidentiality breach, the state also has a knowledge requirement in place that prevents genuinely innocent people from spending time in jail. Under the provision, an individual must have performed the act on database intrusion with the sole purpose of interrupting a computer’s software, hardware, or database systems. An employee who accidentally deletes customer files cannot be charged with hacking since he lacked the motive to interfere with the company’s daily operations online. Whether or not the manager sees such mistake as innocent is another story, however, as some businesses have a zero tolerance rule when it comes to hacking.
In addition to being intentional, a suspect must also be proven guilty of acting without the permission of his superiors. A worker who was erroneously told by his manager to delete large chunks of data cannot be charged with hacking since he was technically commissioned to cause such chaos. On the other hand, an employee who takes it upon himself to eliminate crucial information is guilty of a computer crime since none of his superiors instructed him to discard the material. The prosecution’s burden to prove hacking, which is why some employees who are genuinely guilty of computer crimes slip through the cracks and go without being charged and convicted every year.
CA Computer Crime Laws: Penalties
Fines for computer crimes in California range from $1,000 to $10,000. A person convicted of hacking may also be ordered to spend up to three years in jail for their offense. A judge may also deem it necessary for the guilty party to compensate for company losses due to his misdeed.
Community service is a possibility for those found guilty of computer crimes in California. The alternate form of sentencing is only offered to those who express remorse for crimes committed while showing the courts that repeated hackings are not in the plan.