As technology, especially computers and electronic information, becomes an ever-increasing part of our everyday work and personal lives, computer crimes also become a common problem. States across the nation, including Kansas, have developed laws to address computer and Internet-based crimes, from online scams to cyberbullying. For example, in Kansas it’s illegal to log into another person’s Facebook page without his or her permission, even to play what you think is a funny prank.
The chart below outlines the main computer crime laws in Kansas.
|Kansas Statutes Section 21-5839: Unlawful Acts Concerning Computers
|What is Prohibited?
|Several computer-related activities are unlawful in Kansas:
- Computer Crime – Knowingly and without authorization or exceeding the limits of authorization damaging, modifying, destroying, copying, disclosing, or taking possession of a computer, computer system, computer network, or any other computer-related property
- Fraud Using a Computer – Using a computer, system, or network to hatch or execute a scheme with the intent to defraud or obtain anything of value by means of fraudulent representation
- Password Disclosure – Knowingly and without authorization disclosing a number, code, password, or other means of accessing a computer, network, or any personal electronic content
- Computer Trespass – Knowingly and without authorization accessing or attempting to access any computer, system, social networking website, network, software, program, or data in any computer, system or network
|The penalty varies based on the type of computer crime committed and the monetary loss of the victim(s). Criminal computer trespass and computer password disclosure are class A non-person misdemeanors. A “non-person” crime is distinguished from a “person” crime where an individual was harmed directly, such as an assault or rape. This type of misdemeanor is punished by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Computer crime and fraud using a computer are severity level 8 nonperson felony. Kansas uses a sentencing grid that distinguishes between “person” and “nonperson” crimes, as well as “drug” and “non-drug” crimes. The grid uses your prior convictions and the level of your current crime to determine the appropriate sentence. For this level, the range is 7 to 23 months, and defendants are likely to receive probation.
However, if a defendant causes over $100,000 in damage to the victim(s), then it’s a level 5 nonperson felony. The range for this crime is about 2.5 years to over 11 years and prison time is likely.
|Mental State Required for Prosecution
|A defendant must knowingly commit the computer crimes listed above. If you wrote down your mom’s bank account password on a post-it note to help her transfer money, then it was stolen and used by a third party, you couldn’t be charged with password disclosure.
However, it’s unwise to write down important passwords and keep them in easily accessible areas. For more on how to prevent this and identity theft, read these tips.
|Attempted Computer Crimes
|An attempted computer crime is also considered a crime in Kansas.
|Unfortunately, victims of computer crime aren’t given an explicit right to sue for this crime, although some loses may be covered by other laws and/or your insurance policy. For questions, talk to a Kansas lawyer with experience in internet and computer crimes.
Note: Because Kansas and other state laws are constantly changing, you should contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these criminal laws.
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