Being accused of a crime involving computer fraud or abuse is a very serious situation. There is no question about that. A person who is accused of an offense related to hacking, fraud, theft or other similar misconduct can find themselves facing violations on the state level and/or the federal level.
Depending on the alleged act, a person may be deemed in violation of Minnesota laws, federal laws or both. Violations such as hacking, theft of personal information or unauthorized computer access are addressed in Minnesota state laws. When an act violates state laws, the case will often, though not always, be tried in a state court. However, there are times when a person will instead or also face federal charges for an alleged computer crime. These cases will be tried in federal court.
Federal laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, are in place to protect federal interests. This means that if an alleged computer crime crosses state borders, violates the U.S. Constitution or involves government computers, for example, it may very well result in federal charges.
If a person is convicted of a federal offense, he or she could face extremely serious penalties, including decades-long prison sentences in a federal facility and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Federal crimes of any nature should be taken very seriously. U.S. government agencies have extensive resources to prosecute those accused of violating laws, and facing these parties alone can seem all but impossible. This is why seeking the support and help of an attorney familiar with trying cases in federal court can be crucial in defending against charges.
Source: PBS.org, “Computer Crime Laws,” accessed on Jan. 7, 2015