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The number of incidences of computer fraud and related crimes linked to it are growing significantly in Virginia, throughout the U.S. and around the world. Since storing and sharing personal information on computers is still relatively new, there are many different acts that are illegal and can lead to various penalties even if the person accused does not realize they are committing a crime. One such act is the invasion of privacy via computer. Understanding these crimes and how they can be penalized in the event of a conviction is imperative to those who are confronted with issues related to it.

If a person uses a computer or a computer network to examine financial information, salary, credit or employment without the authority to do so can be charged with computer invasion of privacy. By "examine," the law states that the person who commits the offense is doing so when the victim knows or should know that it is occurring, but does not. This charge will be a Class 1 misdemeanor.

In the event that a person violates this law and was convicted previously or was convicted of a similar violation in any state in the U.S. will be charged with a Class 6 felony. If the law is violated and the information is used to commit another crime, it is also a Class 6 felony.

This law is not applicable to someone who is collecting information that is required to protect the security of the computer, its service, a business related to computers, or to diagnose and repair the computer. It is also not applicable when the information is needed to come to a determination as to whether or not the user has a license or authorization to use certain computer software of a computer service.

An illegal act involving a computer and invading the privacy of another can result in white collar crime charges. While these charges might not sound as serious as violent crimes or hands-on robberies, the penalties can be as, if not more, significant. For help with accusations and charges related to invasion of privacy via computer, computer fraud, internet crime or any other computer crime, speaking to an attorney experienced with white collar crimes is imperative to lodge a strong defense.

Source: law.lis.virginia.gov, "18.2-152.5. Computer invasion of privacy; penalties.," accessed on June 20, 2016

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