December 1, 2022
Nearly everyone has a computer these days, which opens up a whole new world of activities, including crime. Some people find themselves unwittingly at the center of fraud related to computer crimes, as one Parker, Colorado resident recently discovered.
A couple that purchased a new home in Parker found their mailbox stuffed with unemployment debit cards. The cards sported their home address with dozens of different resident names claiming it as their own. An obvious red flag to the new homeowners, they contacted the police. Authorities are now investigating this fraud involving the state’s new unemployment system.
Here’s what you need to know about computer fraud charges in Colorado and the penalty ranges if convicted of these crimes.
Computer Fraud in Colorado
Computer fraud falls under the umbrella of computer crimes in the state of Colorado. Computer crimes are defined as the unlawful access or use of a computer, computer network, or computer system to commit theft, fraud, or cause damage.
Under Colorado law, a computer crime is committed if a person knowingly does any of the following:
- Employ a computer for the purpose of fraud
- Use a computer, computer system, or network without proper authorization
- Access computers through misrepresentations, false passwords, false promises, or false pretenses
- Use a computer for the purpose of committing theft
- Alter, interrupt, or damage any other computer, computer system, or computer network without authorization
- Transmit a program, code, data, information, software, or command to cause damage via the computer
- Run software that pushes automated tasks to disable or circumvent electronic queues intended by a seller to limit event tickets to a single buyer
It’s important to note that smartphones and tablets can be considered a computer under the law when it relates to computer crimes.
Computer Crime Examples
As you can see, the definition of what constitutes a computer crime under Colorado law is fairly broad. However, these crimes all have two things in common:
- They may be perpetrated by a single person or a group.
- The actions taken are for financial gain or to damage a computer system or website.
Some examples of computer crimes include:
- Identity theft
- Spreading viruses or malware
- Phishing scams
- Denial of Services attacks
- Theft of information or data
Penalties for Computer Crimes
The penalties for computer crimes depend on the offense as well as the material worth of the loss, theft, or damage.
A felony or a misdemeanor charge depends on the value, as mentioned. They can range from a Class 3 misdemeanor – punishable by up to six months in jail and fines of as much as $750 for charges valued at $300 or less – to a Class 2 felony, which could receive a 24 year prison sentence and a fine up to $1 million. The highest fine applies to crimes valued at $1 million or more.
If you have been charged with a computer crime, involve an attorney in your case as soon as possible to help mount a defense.
Some of the most common defenses to these types of charges include:
- Lack of intent
- Expiration of the statute of limitations
- Proper authorization to take the action was provided.
An experienced lawyer can include investigators and experts to build a case against computer fraud.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.