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Accessing someone else’s account is illegal

On Behalf of | May 4, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Much like in the physical world, we must respect each other’s boundaries in the digital landscape. Passwords and two-factor authentication serve as a layer of protection for your virtual valuables. Devices and online accounts hold many crucial details, from financial transactions to intimate conversations with friends.

Deliberately logging into someone else’s computer, other networked devices and online accounts without permission is not just unethical. It is illegal. Unauthorized computer access can take on many forms, from seemingly harmless acts, such as posing as a friend on their social media account, to the more malicious, such as installing malware or stealing information.

Whether you do it to cause harm, alter data or prank a friend, unauthorized computer access may land you serious charges.

Penalty for unauthorized computer access

The damages resulting from unauthorized computer access will determine how severe penalty will be. Even if your actions did not lead to any injury or harm, you could face an infraction with a fine of up to $1,000. A second offense may escalate the charges into a misdemeanor, potentially landing you up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

However, if your offense caused significant damage or someone incurs a loss of $5,000 or more, the stakes increase dramatically. You may be looking at either a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony may result in jail time ranging from 16 months or two to three years and fines up to $10,000.

These legal consequences are in place to help shield individuals from having their personal information unlawfully accessed or privacy violated. It is best not to underestimate the impact of a conviction for computer crimes. If you or someone you know is facing charges, consider seeking a lawyer to start building a defense strategy.

Even if they may not appear to be, boundaries set in the digital world are just as real as those in the real world. No matter what, they demand the same level of respect.