Oct 09, 2020 Annoyance & online trespass as crimes- Fairfax criminal lawyer explains
Annoyance, harassment and online trespass can be Virginia crimes, says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Annoyance, harassment and online trespass can be crimes in Virginia. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I post this second part of a two-part article on this area of the criminal law in the commonwealth. Part one is here.
What does Virginia’s computer annoyance trespass law prohibit?
In key part, Virginia’s computer annoyance trespass law provides: “A. It is unlawful for any person, with malicious intent, or through intentionally deceptive means and without authority, to: 1. Temporarily or permanently… disable any computer data, computer programs or computer software from a computer or computer network; 2. Cause a computer to malfunction…; 3. Alter, disable, or erase any computer data…; 4. Effect the creation or alteration of a financial instrument or of an electronic transfer of funds; 5. Use a computer or computer network to cause physical injury to the property of another; 6. Use a computer or computer network to make or cause to be made an unauthorized copy…; … 8. Install or cause to be installed, or collect information through, computer software that records all or a majority of the keystrokes made on the computer of another; or 9. Install or cause to be installed on the computer of another, computer software for the purpose of…” Virginia Code § 18.2-152.4. (Annoyance and theft computer law.)
Fairfax criminal lawyer says theft of computer services is a crime and annoyance in Virginia
Theft of computer services is a Virginia crime, and not only an annoyance: “Any person who willfully obtains computer services without authority is guilty of the crime of theft of computer services, which shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the theft of computer services is valued at $2,500 or more, he is guilty of a Class 6 felony.” Va. Code § 18.2-152.6.
What does Virginia’s computer fraud statue prohibit?
Virginia’s computer fraud annoyance statute provides that: “Any person who uses a computer or computer network, without authority and: 1. Obtains property or services by false pretenses; 2. Embezzles or commits larceny; or 3. Converts the property of another; is guilty of the crime of computer fraud.If the value of the property or services obtained is $1,000 or more, the crime of computer fraud shall be punishable as a Class 5 felony. Where the value of the property or services obtained is less than $1,000, the crime of computer fraud shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.” Va. Code § 18.2-152.3. Similarly, in Virginia it is “unlawful for any person… to use a computer to obtain, access, or record, through the use of material artifice, trickery or deception, any identifying information, as defined in clauses (iii) through (xiii) of subsection C of § 18.2-186.3.” Va. Code § 18.2-152.5:1.
What does Virginia criminal annoyance law prohibit for misuse of one’s identity?
As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that the Virginia law provides that: “It shall be unlawful for any person, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person, to publish the person’s name or photograph along with identifying information as defined in clauses (iii) through (ix), or clause (xii) of subsection C of § 18.2-186.3, or identification of the person’s primary residence address. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any person who violates this section knowing or having reason to know that person is a law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101, is guilty of a Class 6 felony. The sentence shall include a mandatory minimum term of confinement of six months. Va. Code § 18.2-186.4. This statute is ripe for First Amendmeent challenges generally, and for content-based related First Amendment challenges for bumping up the penalty to a six month mandatory jail minimum when the victim is an officer, which is more than an annoyance for the defendant.
Virginia criminal law bars making electronic false representations for financial gain
As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that Virginia law criminalizes making electronic annoyance misrepresentations for financial gain: “Any person who, without the intent to receive any direct or indirect benefit, maliciously sends an electronically transmitted communication containing a false representation intended to cause another person to spend money, and such false representation causes such person to spend money, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.” Va. Code § 18.2-152.7:2.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz has successfully defended many people accused of computer and online-related annoyance crimes, and thousands of people charged with a variety of felony, misdemeanor and DUI violations. Call 703-383-1100 for a free in-person confidential consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending case.