What Are the Laws Regarding Computer Tampering in Illinois?

St. Charles aggravated computer tampering attorney

Computer “hacking” has become a hotly discussed topic in recent decades. A number of movies and television shows depict mysterious “hackers” stealing, using, and manipulating computer data for a range of purposes. Although it is sometimes glorified in entertainment, using a computer or accessing computer data without authorization is a criminal offense. In 1996, Illinois passed the Computer Crime Prevention Law. This law makes it illegal for a person to access a computer, a computer program, or other digital information that he or she does not have permission to use. The penalties for computer tampering and aggravated computer tampering vary significantly depending on the circumstances of the alleged crime, but these penalties often involve heavy fines and jail time. If you are charged with computer tampering, it is crucial that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your defense options as soon as possible.

What Is Computer Tampering?

Under Illinois law, computer tampering is a serious crime. Some people may not realize the actions that constitute this offense, which is defined as doing any of the following: 

  • Knowingly accessing a computer, network, or program without permission

  • Obtaining computer data or services without authorization

  • Damaging or altering computer data or programs

  • Inserting or attempting to insert a program into a computer that may damage the computer or another computer, cause harm to the users of the computer, or falsify email transmission information or routing information in connection with the spread of unsolicited bulk email

It is also against the law for an individual to sell or otherwise distribute software that can be used for purposes related to computer tampering. The lowest classification of computer tampering in Illinois is a Class B misdemeanor. If data or services were obtained as the result of computer tampering, the crime is elevated to a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a second offense. Some second or subsequent computer tampering convictions may also be classified as Class 3 felonies.

Aggravated Computer Tampering and Computer Fraud

Aggravated computer tampering involves accessing government computers without authorization. Many aggravated computer tampering charges are a result of alleged interference with federal, state, or local governments or public utilities. Computer tampering may also be elevated to aggravated charges if there is a strong likelihood that the interference may cause another person injury or death. Aggravated computer tampering is charged as either a Class 4, Class 3, or Class 2 felony, depending on the damage caused by the alleged offender’s actions.

Contact a St. Charles Criminal Defense Lawyer

Computer tampering is a criminal offense that can result in steep fines, a permanent criminal record, and in many cases, incarceration. If you or a loved one is facing computer tampering charges, contact the accomplished Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC to learn how we can help you defend against these serious allegations. Our skilled legal team consists of a former prosecutor, law enforcement officer, and trial attorney with the highest rating from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Schedule a free initial consultation with our seasoned Illinois criminal defense attorneys by calling us today at 630-232-1780.