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Charged with a Computer Crime? What You Need to Know

  • Birdsall Obear

Cyberattacks. Malware. Computer hacking. These are all familiar terms in our modern society that grows increasingly dependent on technology. And while you may think that the term “cybercriminal” only applies to highly skilled individuals who hack into a corporation’s computer network or steal someone’s identity, there are several other computer-related activities that are considered illegal in the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s Laws Against Computer Crimes
Wisconsin’s laws against computer crimes cover a range of offenses. It is important to note that for these acts to be considered criminal offenses, they must have been conducted intentionally, with purpose, and without authorization. These include:

  • hacking: unauthorized access to a computer system or account that compromises digital devices and networks
  • stealing, copying, or destroying data
  • installing a virus into a computer system or network 
  • using a computer to defraud
  • disclosing restricted access information
  • destruction of a computer network 
  • altering a computer system or computer equipment

What are Wisconsin’s Penalties for Cyber Crimes? 

The penalties for computer crimes in Wisconsin vary depending upon the crime. An offense such as unauthorized access to a computer network is a Class A misdemeanor, bringing a fine of up to $10,000 and up to nine months in prison.

Stealing data or illegally using another person’s credit cards—which is considered intentional fraud—is a Class I felony and the penalty includes a fine up to $10,000 and up to three years and six months in prison.

When a cybercrime inflicts damage that is valued at more than $2,500, it is a Class H felony, bringing a fine up to $10,000 and up to six years in prison. When a cybercrime disrupts public services, governmental operations, or poses substantial risk of bodily harm or death to another individual, it is a Class F felony with a fine up to $25,000 plus up to 12 years and 6 months in prison.

Computer crimes are serious offenses, and a skillful defense is critical for a favorable outcome. Contact an experienced computer crimes defense attorney if you are charged with a cybercrime in Wisconsin.

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