White-collar computer crimes, on a state or federal level, can carry a hefty penalty

On Behalf of | Jan 7, 2022 | Federal Crimes, White Collar Crimes |

Under Missouri state law, people can be prosecuted for a variety of computer crimes. These include tampering with computer data, tampering with computer users or tampering with computer equipment.   

But what constitutes a federal computer crime? How does prosecution differ at the state level and the federal level?

What are considered state vs. federal white-collar computer crimes?

Computer crime is defined as tampering with computer data, users or equipment that causes loss for the victim. The loss can be monetary or property value depending on the crime that was committed.

Computer crimes can escalate into federal charges if the crime was committed across multiple states or the crime was committed against a federal establishment, such as a bank, court or any federal building.  This also applies to any nonpublic, protected federal government computer.

Missouri computer crime penalties

Tampering with computer data, such as modifying or destroying data that resides internally in a computer or network, changes from a misdemeanor to a felony when the loss caused by the crime is equal to $750 or more. The penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and a fine of no more than $2000. A Class E felony is punishable by jail time not to exceed 4 years.

Tampering with computer users, such as denying an authorized user access to computer system services, will net the same punishments as tampering with computer data and also uses the same criteria when determining whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony.

Tampering with computer equipment, such as modifying, destroying or damaging computer equipment or storage devices, can also be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony using the same criteria and issuing the same punishments.  However, if the damage led to a loss of $25,000 or more, the crime can be tried as a Class D felony, with a punishment of jail time of not more than 7 years.

Federal computer crime penalties

Penalties handed out for federal computer crimes depend on whether it was a first-time conviction or if there had been previous convictions of the same offense.  Penalties can double if there were previous convictions.

Penalties, depending on the severity of the loss or damage done and which computers were targeted, can consist of fines, imprisonments of 1 to 20 years or both.