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5 Computer Crimes That Can Get You Arrested

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

In these modern times where newspapers don't use paper, the internet and computer technology has opened up a whole new world of potential crimes you may not even be aware are crimes. Even though the internet is still a wild wild west of sorts, there are many laws that allow law enforcement to arrest people for acting out online, and sometimes just for doing what is considered normal online activity.

Below are 5 computer crimes that can get you arrested in order from most likely to get you arrested to least likely.

1. Cyber Stalking

While we all know that regular stalking is a crime, cyber-stalking is also a crime. However, unlike real stalking, which requires an actual presence that intimidates or harasses the victim, cyber-stalking is all done online or via electronic communication such as text messaging.

2. Criminal Threats

Making criminal threats, such as threats of violence, can land you in prison. A Pennsylvania man was recently sentenced to 44 months for threatening to murder his ex-wife via a Facebook post. Although his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, that's not something you want to bank on. Even if the federal laws against making criminal threats online can't be used, most states have their own laws prohibiting criminal threats through nearly every medium, including internet, phone, and text message.

While generally distributing images you do not hold the copyrights to can land you in civil court, disclosing sexual images without the consent of the subject is criminally illegal in many states. In 2004, New Jersey became the first state to put this type of a law on their books. The law was in response to the uptick in 'revenge porn' that was being published on the internet.

4. Online Gambling

You know that March Madness pool you enter every year with your friends, and that other one with the office, and that other one with your church group, and then that other one with your neighbor's sister's ex-boyfriend's nephew? They're all potentially illegal.

Generally, sports gambling is illegal outside of Nevada. While some states make exceptions to the laws, most state and Federal law enforcement and prosecutors wouldn't ever enforce these laws against casual office or friend pools. The danger comes when the organizer is actually profiting off running the pool. Other forms of online gambling appear from time to time and tend to be quickly banned or regulated out of existence by individual states.

5. Theft of Wi-Fi

Believe it or not, but theft of Wi-Fi is a crime. While it may be a difficult crime to prove for law enforcement, under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act you can be charged with a crime for connecting to an unsecured Wi-Fi network that you are not authorized to connect to. In one case, a man convicted of connecting to a Wi-Fi network he was not authorized to join, simply to check his email, and was fined $400 and had to complete 40 hours of community service.

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