Consumers are using the Internet now more than ever. You can buy almost anything, plan a trip, or even do your banking through your computer. Unfortunately, not all people offering services online are legitimate, and sometimes Internet crime occurs. These types of offenses are also commonly known as computer crimes.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, established to address fraud and other types of crime committed over the Internet. If you have been a victim of Internet crime, you should report the violation through the IC3 or local law enforcement immediately.

Computer Crime Laws Generally

While many may be familiar with “hacking” from watching their favorite television shows or reading the latest news headline, a broader variety of activities may qualify as computer crimes.

Examples of common computer crimes include:

  • Improperly accessing a computer, system, or network;
  • Introducing a virus or other contaminant into a computer system;
  • Modifying, damaging, using, disclosing, copying, or taking programs or data;
  • Interfering with someone else’s computer access or use;
  • Using encryption in aid of a crime;
  • Falsifying e-mail source information; and
  • Stealing an information service from a provider.

D.C. Computer Crimes Laws

In D.C., most computer crimes are prosecuted on the federal level. Through the Computer Fraud Crimes and Abuse Act, federal prosecutors can target frausters committing several different crimes with a computer including:

  • Obtaining National Security Information;
  • Accessing a Computer and Obtaining Information;
  • Trespassing in a Government Computer;
  • Accessing a Computer to Defraud & Obtain Value;
  • Intentionally Damaging by Knowing Transmission;
  • Recklessly Damaging by Intentional Access;
  • Negligently Causing Damage & Loss by Intentional Access;
  • Trafficking in Passwords;
  • Extortion Involving Computers;

To learn more about D.C.’s computer crimes laws in general, see FindLaw’s Cyber Crimes and Online Scams sections.

Code Section Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) 18 U.S. Code § 1030 – Fraud and related activity in connection with computers, Computer Provisions of the USA Patriot Act
Misdemeanor Computer Crimes N/A
Felony Computer Crimes N/A
Attempt Considered a Crime? N/A

Note: State computer crimes laws are constantly changing — contact a District of Columbia criminal attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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District of Columbia Computer Crimes Laws: Related Resources