Spam. Viruses. Identity theft. Hackers. We’re still learning all the ways computers can be used by criminals and how to keep ourselves safe. Can I get in trouble for sexting? And is it safe to transfer money using my smart phone? Fortunately for Bay Staters, Massachusetts has laws in place intended to protect us from fraud or theft online. Here is a brief summary of computer crimes laws in Massachusetts.

Computer Crimes

There are various types of criminal activities that fall under the umbrella of “computer crimes” in Massachusetts. Many people may be familiar with the term “hacking,” however, there are computer crimes that are even broader and cover a variety of topics. Most state laws identify and prohibit a number of offenses collectively called “computer crimes,” which include crimes such as hacking into a secure network or damaging a computer system. Massachusetts computer crime laws require the act to be intentional and an attempt is considered unlawful.

Computer Crime Laws in Massachusetts

The highlights of Massachusetts’ computer crime laws are listed below.

Code Section Ch. 266 §33A
Mental State Required for Prosecution Intentionally
Misdemeanor Computer Crimes none
Felony Computer Crimes none
Attempt Considered a Crime? Yes
Civil Lawsuit Permitted? No

Computer crimes are generally a subset of “cyber” crimes and can include:

  • Improper access to a computer, system, or network;
  • Improper use, copy, modification, damage, or disclosure, of programs or data;
  • Introduction of a virus or other contaminant into a computer system or network;
  • Interference with another person’s computer access or use;
  • Use of a computer in a scheme to defraud;
  • Use of encryption in aid of a crime;
  • Falsification of e-mail source information; and
  • Theft of information service from a provider.

A computer crime conviction in Massachusetts could mean two and a half years in prison and a $3,000 fine. To help protect yourself against computer crime, be sure to have quality antivirus software on your own computer and take care to keep your sensitive data (passwords, bank account codes, social security numbers, etc.) as private as possible.

Related Resources for Massachusetts Computer Crimes Laws:

Computer crime laws are still relatively new and can seem confusing. You can visit FindLaw’s Cyber Crimes section for more introductory information about the topic. If you would like legal advice regarding a possible computer crime case, you can contact a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney in your area to schedule a consultation.