Computer Hacking—The Consequences of a Conviction

Computer Hacking—The Consequences of a Conviction

What to Expect if Charged with Computer Hacking in Pennsylvania

Under laws that have been on the books for a quarter of a century, Pennsylvania authorities can charge individuals with acts commonly referred to as “computer hacking.” Under Title 18, Section 5741 of the Pennsylvania statutes, it is a crime to “obtain, alter or prevent access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage,” if done without authorization. The law also makes it illegal to engage in hacking that exceeds any authority which you have been granted. The law specifically states that any illegal activity must be shown to be intentional.

The penalties imposed for a conviction for “computer hacking” can be severe. If it can be shown that the objective of the hacking was for commercial or private gain, or simply to engage in malicious destruction, a conviction can result in a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison term of up to one year for the first offense. Subsequent offenses can result in incarceration of up to two years per offense, and up to $250,000 in fines per offense. In the absence of commercial gain or malicious destruction, sentencing is limited to $5,000 and/or up to six months incarceration.

The exceptions to prosecution are limited—the acts are permissible if authorized

  • by the ISP or other entity providing the wire or electronic communication service
  • by the legal user of the wire or electronic communication service
  • as part of permissible governmental access
  • as part of a backup

Contact the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr.

At the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr, we have more than 30 years of practice experience. Contact us online or call us at 610-565-0240 to set up an appointment. There is no charge for your initial consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We take Visa, MasterCard and Discover, as well as debit cards.

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