Computer Crime

18 U.S.C. S 2701 (2005).

The Crime

It is illegal to either intentionally access a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided without authorization or to intentionally exceed authorization to access such a facility, thereby obtain, alter, or prevent authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage.

The Punishment

If the access was for the purposes of commercial advantage, malicious destruction or damage, private commercial gain, or in furtherance of any criminal or tortuous act in violation of the Constitution, or Federal or State law, first-time offenders will be fined, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both. For any subsequent such violation, then punishment consists of a fine, imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.

If the purpose of the access was for any other reason, then punishment for a first-time offense consists of a fine, imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both, while subsequent violations are punished by a fine, imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both.