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Computer Crimes

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 45 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2008 Pages: 233-274
Joseph Audal; Quincy Lu; Peter Roman
Date Published
42 pages
This article discusses Federal, State, and international developments in computer-related criminal law.
Section I defines computer crimes. The U.S. Department of Justice broadly defines computer crime as "any violations of criminal law that involve a knowledge of computer technology for their perpetration, investigation, or prosecution." Types of computer-related offenses are further distinguished by whether a computer is the "object" of the crime (e.g., the theft of computer hardware or software); the "subject" of the crime (viruses, worms, etc., that incapacitate normal computer functioning); or the "instrument" of crime (i.e., the computer is used to commit typical crimes, such as fraud, identity theft, and the distribution of child pornography). Section II discusses constitutional issues pertinent to computer crimes. Section III describes the Federal approaches used in prosecuting perpetrators of computer crime and analyzes enforcement strategies. After discussing Federal sentencing guidelines relevant to computer crimes, Federal statutes that address computer crime are reviewed. These include child pornography statutes, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, copyright statutes, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, identity theft, and the wire fraud statute. Section IV provides an overview of State criminal codes pertinent to computer crime, along with discussions of jurisdiction and enforcement strategies. Section V reviews international approaches to countering computer crime. 407 notes