From spam to viruses, and hackers to identity theft, we’re still learning all the ways criminals can use computers and how we can keep ourselves safe. Can you get in trouble for sexting? And is it safe to use your smart phone to transfer money? Maryland has statutes in place intended to protect us from online theft or fraud. This is a brief summary of computer crimes laws in Maryland.
Most people are familiar with the term "hacking." But there are various types of criminal activities that fall under the umbrella of "computer crimes" in Maryland. Many state laws identify and prohibit a number of offenses collectively called "computer crimes," which can include a variety of topics such as hacking into a secure network, damaging a computer system, or even large-scale spam operations. Maryland computer crime laws require the act to be intentional. However, an attempted computer crime is not considered unlawful in the state.
Computer Crime Laws in Maryland
The highlights of Maryland’s computer crime laws are listed below.
||Crim. Law §7-302
|Mental State Required for Prosecution
|Misdemeanor Computer Crimes
||A person who illegally accesses computer is guilty of a misdemeanor
|Felony Computer Crimes
||If aggregate amount of loss is over $10,000
|Attempt Considered a Crime?
|Civil Lawsuit Permitted?
Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through the passage of new legislation or as the result of high court decisions. Make sure you contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Types of Computer Crimes
Computer crimes can commonly be referred to as “cyber” crimes, and include:
- Improper access to a computer, system, or network
- Improper use, copy, modification, damage, or disclosure, of programs or data
- Introduction of a virus or other contaminant into a computer system or network
- Falsification of e-mail source information
- Interference with another person’s computer access or use
- Use of a computer in a scheme to defraud
- Use of encryption in aid of a crime
- Theft of information service from a provider
Depending on the purpose of the offense, a computer crime conviction in Maryland could mean anywhere from six months to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. To help protect yourself against computer crime, be sure to keep sensitive data like passwords, bank account codes, and social security numbers as private as possible, and install quality antivirus software on your own computer.
Related Resources for Maryland Computer Crimes Laws
Many state computer crime laws are still relatively new and can therefore seem confusing. If you would like legal advice regarding a possible computer crime case, you can contact a Maryland criminal defense attorney near you. You can visit FindLaw's Cyber Crimes section for more general information.
Speak to an Attorney About Your Computer Crime Case
If you've been charged with a computer-related crime in Maryland, the prosecution will have at its disposal computer forensics experts and legal know-how. For this reason, it's a good idea to get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Maryland when defending against the charges.