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What Are the Penalties for Computer Crimes in Wisconsin?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

milwaukee criminal defense lawyerBy: Attorney Cameron Weitzner

In the 21st century, people spend a significant percentage of their time online or using computer systems or electronic devices. While most computer-related activity is completely legal, certain activities could potentially lead to criminal charges. Those accused of committing computer crimes will need to understand how the law addresses these types of illegal activities and the potential consequences they could face if they are convicted.

Computer-Related Criminal Charges in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law defines a number of criminal offenses related to computers. These offenses may affect computer data and programs (software) or physical computer systems or networks (hardware). Software-related offenses include illegally accessing computer systems or programs (commonly known as hacking) or modifying, destroying, copying, or taking possession of data or related documentation. Hardware-related offenses include the theft, destruction, or unauthorized use or modification of a computer system, network, equipment, or supplies.

The minimum charge for a person accused of crimes against computer programs, computer systems, or networks is a Class A misdemeanor, and if convicted, a person may be sentenced to up to nine months in prison and fined up to $10,000. However, most computer offenses are more serious, since they typically involve accusations of fraud, significant financial losses, or the destruction of valuable computer systems. 

Computer crimes involving fraud may include the theft of financial information, illegal use of another person’s credit cards, or “ransomware,” in which a person threatens to delete data or make a system inaccessible if they are not paid a certain amount. If a person is accused of committing a computer crime with the intent of defrauding someone or illegally obtaining property, they may be charged with a Class I felony, and if convicted, they may be sentenced to up to three years and six months in prison and fined up to $10,000. If a computer crime caused more than $2,500 in financial losses due to the destruction of computer equipment or other issues, a person may be charged with a Class F felony, which can result in a sentence of up to 12 years and six months in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. A person may also be charged with a Class F felony if computer crimes allegedly resulted in an interruption of public services, transportation, communication, or governmental operations or if they led to a substantial risk that a person would suffer serious bodily injuries or death.

Contact Our Milwaukee, WI Computer Crimes Defense Attorneys

The attorneys of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP have more than 50 years of experience defending clients in criminal cases. With our strong knowledge of the laws in Wisconsin and our ability to handle complex criminal cases involving computer systems and data, we can ensure that a person understands their best options for defense. To get legal help with your case, contact our Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers at 414-271-1440.





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