Technology changes extremely rapidly. Alas, legislatures don’t move nearly as fast when it comes to computer crimes statutes. But most states have at least addressed the issue, whether it’s using encryption to commit a crime, introducing a computer virus, or some other cyber crime.
Ohio computer crime laws differentiate between misdemeanor computer crimes (sending spam, for instance) and felony computer crimes (unauthorized use of computer property is a 5th degree felony).
The key provisions of Ohio computer crime laws are listed in the table below, while more in-depth information can be found below. See Details on State Computer Crime Laws for a general overview.
|Code Section||2913.01, et seq.|
|Mental State Required for Prosecution||Knowingly|
|Misdemeanor Computer Crimes||4th degree misdemeanor: unauthorized use|
|Felony Computer Crimes||Unauthorized use of computer property is felony of the 5th degree|
|Attempt Considered a Crime?||Yes|
|Civil Lawsuit Permitted?||No|
Mental State Required for Prosecution of Computer Crimes
One of the basic requirements for any criminal charge is that the defendant had some sort of mental intent with regard to the crime committed. Some common forms of intent are negligence, recklessness, knowing, and purposefulness. With the first three, it is evident that the defendant does not necessarily have to intend the consequences to be guilty.
For computer crimes in Ohio, the requisite mental intent is knowingly. This means that the defendant is practically certain that their conduct will achieve the illegal result. Essentially, for the crime of unauthorized use of computer property, the defendant must know that they computer property is not theirs, and know that they are not authorized to use the other person’s computer property.
Misdemeanor vs Felony
Ohio has two forms of computer crimes, but both are for unauthorized use of computer property. Depending on the severity of the crime, a defendant may be charged with either a 4th degree misdemeanor , or a 5th degree felony for unauthorized use of computer property.
Many criminal laws punish defendants for attempting to commit a crime, even if they are not successful. Computer crimes are no exception in Ohio. In Ohio, you can be convicted of attempted unauthorized use of computer property even if you do not complete the crime.
Protecting Yourself Online
As computers become ever more entrenched in our society, the rate of computer crimes increases as well. Although many people are concerned about someone “hacking” into their computer and stealing their private data, there are many more frauds and scams that you should be aware of. “Phishing” is a common scam that involves blatantly asking an unsuspecting victim for their personal information. It is important to never give out personal information over the telephone or through email, unless you are certain that the person on the other line is trustworthy. One method to avoid this scam is to not answer phone calls or emails asking for your information. Generally, when banks or other institutions need to contact you, their email will direct you to contact them through a secure means, rather than sending your information through email.
If you would like to know more about computer crimes in Ohio, you may want to speak with an attorney in your area with criminal law experience. In addition to letting you know the details of computer crimes, the attorney may be able to suggest methods for protecting yourself in the future.