Computers and other technology are working their way into our everyday work and personal lives, from saving work files or family photos in “the cloud” to online banking. With these changes, computer crimes have become an increasing concern. Most U.S. states have enacted laws to address computer and internet-based crimes, such as online scams or cyberbullying. West Virginia has also adopted such laws to catch criminals, no matter what their preferred area.
West Virginia Computer Crimes
The following table briefly explains the computer crime laws in West Virginia.
|Code Sections||West Virginia Code Chapter 61: Crimes, Article 3C: West Virginia Computer Crime and Abuse Act|
|What’s Prohibited?||West Virginia law prohibits all of the following computer crimes:
|Penalty||The penalties are specific to the crime, as follows:
|Mental State Required for Prosecution||Usually, the defendant must commit the computer crime knowingly and willfully. You can’t just have accidentally destroyed the computer by spilling a coffee on it.|
|Defenses||Any general defenses, such as innocence, could apply to a computer crime. In addition, the statute provides it’s a defense that the defendant had reasonable grounds to believe he or she had the right to access, alter, copy, or disclose computer or its data, programs, or accessories.|
|Attempt||Attempting to commit a computer crime is still illegal.|
|Civil Lawsuits||An individual whose property or person has been injured by a computer crime can sue in civil court for compensatory damages (including lost profits), punitive damages (to penalize the wrongdoer), injunctive relief, or other appropriate remedies. The proceedings can be held in a way to protect the secrecy and security of the computer network, data, or programs or trade secrets.
You must sue within five years of the crime or two years after discovering or should reasonably have discovered the violation.
If you’re facing computer-related crime charges, you should immediately consult with an experienced West Virginia criminal defense lawyer.
Note: State laws change frequently. Conduct your own legal research or contact a knowledgeable attorney to verify these computer crime laws.
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