There are various types of criminal activities that fall under the umbrella of "computer crimes" in Texas. Many people may be familiar with the term "hacking," however, there are computer crimes that are even broader and cover a variety of topics. The following are all computer crimes under Texas law:
Computer crimes can be broad in range but basically involve any use of a computer or other technological machine or system like a computer to harm, defraud or threaten another person, or to solicit minors or breach security. Texas computer crimes laws are constantly changing to keep up with the fast pace of technology.
The penalties for computer crimes are of a wide variety depending on the nature and seriousness of the crime committed. For the breach of computer security (i.e. gaining access to a computer without the consent of the owner), the penalty may range all the way from a "Class B" misdemeanor (up to 180 days in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000) up to a first degree felony (five to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000). The factor influencing the degree of the penalty imposed is the value of money or property that the defendant benefitted from and/or was lost by the victim.
For soliciting a minor, the crime will be charged as a third degree felony (two to ten years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000). However, if the minor is under 14 years of age, then it may be a second degree felony (two to twenty years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000).
For tampering with a voting machine, the penalty is a first degree felony. This is a very serious penalty with a sentence between five to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
For online harassment, the charge is generally a third degree felony. However, if the crime was pretending to send an electronic message of any type from another person, hoping the recipient would believe that other person authorized this message, with the intent to harm or defraud, the defendant may instead be charged with a "Class A" misdemeanor (not more than one year in a county jail and/or a fine of no more than $4,000). In the event, however, that this was intended to summon a response by emergency personnel, it will be elevated back to a third degree felony.
Texas Computer Crimes Statute (Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 33)
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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