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Los Angeles Computer Fraud Defense Attorneys



Legal Defense Against Computer Fraud Charges

Computer crimes are prohibited under California Penal Code Section 502(c). This statute is designed to protect computers, computer systems, and computer networks for individuals, businesses, government entities, and organizations. Many computer crimes are money motivated and related to fraud or theft. These types of crime include:

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What Is a Computer Crime Under California Law?

Under Penal Code Section 502(c), it is a crime to knowingly use a computer, or a computer system, to commit any type of crime. Offenses in violation of this statute are wobblers, meaning they can be charged and prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Crimes that fall under this category include knowing use of a computer, without permission, to:

  • Copy, take, or use data from a computer
  • Use computer services
  • Deceive, defraud, extort, or wrongfully obtain money, property, or data
  • Disrupt computer services
  • Damage, delete, alter, or destroy data, software, or programs
  • Disrupt government computer services
  • Introduce a virus
  • Assist unlawful access of a computer or system

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What Are the Penalties for Computer Fraud In California?

Whether a computer crime is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony can depend on factors such as the defendant’s criminal history, the extent of the fraud or theft, the victims, and whether the offense was committed with malice or oppression. When charged as a misdemeanor, a crime under Section 502(c) may carry up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. If the crime is prosecuted as a felony, penalties may include 16 months to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Upon conviction of computer fraud, a judge may order a defendant to pay restitution to the victims of the crime. Victims may also be entitled to file a civil lawsuit against the defendant for damages caused by a computer crime.

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What Are the Legal Defenses to Computer Crimes?

Depending on the unique circumstances of the case, possible defenses to computer crime charges could include the following:

  • You acted unknowingly: To convict you of a computer crime under California law, the prosecution must prove that you engaged in the computer-related act knowingly. If it was accidentally done, the prosecutor may not be able to establish all the elements of the crime.
  • Someone else committed the crime: Innocent people can have their accounts, smartphones, and computers hacked and used to commit crimes. It is up to the prosecution to prove that you were the person who committed the criminal act.
  • Your actions were work-related: It may be a legal defense if the computer-related activity was conducted within the scope of lawful employment and involved duties and tasks necessary to complete a work assignment.
  • Your constitutional rights were violated: If police violated your rights under the U.S. Constitution protecting citizens from unlawful search and seizure, your attorney can challenge the use of any illegally obtained evidence in your case.

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Do You Need a Lawyer?

Penalties are severe for computer crimes in California, particularly when they are prosecuted as felonies. If you have been charged with computer fraud, your best chance of obtaining the best possible outcome in your case is to have an experienced Los Angeles white collar crime defense attorney represent you.

At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we are tenacious, proven criminal defense lawyers. Two of our partners are former prosecutors, which gives us added insight into how the other side works. Our firm was founded in 1994, and our attorneys have decades of experience.

We offer a free initial consultation. If you are facing computer fraud charges, call us today at (213) 688-0460. We can explain your options under the law.

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Additional Information

Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Today
Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942

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