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Computer crimes and the wide-ranging CFAA


Computer crimes include exploiting children, identity theft, computer fraud and more. These crimes often violate federal law and require a strong criminal defense.

There are many reasons why a resident of Washington State could end up in federal court over alleged computer crimes. For example, a person may be charged with a violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which addresses fraud committed via computer. The CFAA makes it a federal crime to exceed authorized access to a computer and obtain information deemed by the government to require protection against such unauthorized access.

A violation of the CFAA could involve obtaining unauthorized access to certain records of financial institutions, credit report information, information gleaned from agencies or departments of the U.S. government, and various other types of protected information. A person could also break this law by using a computer without authorized access and purposely obtaining something of value - an exception is if the value obtained is only the use of the computer and that particular value does not exceed $5,000 during the period of a year.

Additional examples of breaking the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act include trafficking in passwords or similar types of protected information; threatening to damage or obtain information from protected computers; extortion; and transmitting codes or programs that damage protected computers.

Computer fraud is a serious criminal charge and the penalties for federal crimes can be extremely steep. Anyone facing such a charge can benefit from the help of an experienced federal computer crimes attorney.

Source: Legal Information Institute, "18 U.S. Code § 1030 - Fraud and related activity in connection with computers," accessed June 19, 2016

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